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St. Sreiftan tbe IDo^aoer 








24 & 25 Nassau Street 




IN publishing a Second Edition of my Book on St. Brendan, 
I wish to express my grateful appreciation of the very 
kindly and favourable manner in which the First Edition 
was received, as far as I have observed, by its readers, and 
of the many notices of it that have appeared in the Press, 
both in Ireland and America, which were uniformly kind 
and encouraging. Indeed, with respect to the criticism of 
my little volume, I may well say : — Funes ceciderunt mihi 
in praeclaris — "The lines have fallen unto me in goodly 

I beg to thank Mr. W. A. Cadbury, of Birmingham for 
copies of two ancient Maps he kindly sent to me, which 
show the Isle of St. Brendan and the Isle of Hy-Brazil, in 
the Western Ocean. I have had copies made on a reduced 
scale of one of these Maps, which was drawn in a.d. 1581, 
by the famous geographer, Abraham Ortelius, of Antwerp, 
and they will be found at page 304, where they may serve 
to illustrate the interesting Legends of the Isle of St. Brendan 
and of Hy-Brazil, which precede that page. 

Denis O'Donoghue, P.P., M.R.I.A. 

St. Brendan's, Ardfebt, 
May, 1895. 

Since the publication of this volume the autho 

received, among many other complimentary lettex 

favourable notices of the Press, the following verj 

and highly-valued letters : — 

Archbishop's House, 

Dublin, August, 1 
Vert Rev. Dear Sir, 

I beg to return thanks for the copy of Brewl 
which you have been pleased to forward. 1 have already 
considerable portion of your notes and illustrations, and '. 
gratulate you most sincerely on the light which you have thrc 
the life of your great patron, St. Brendan. It would be t 
blessing for the Church of Ireland if a similar light were thro 
the life of each one of our Diocesan Patrons. 

Now that you have completed this work, perhaps you 
sketch the lives of St. Brendan's successors in the See of Kern 
far as I have been able to judge, some of those lives would j 
very interesting page of our ecclesiastical history. 


Believe me to remain, 

Very faithfully yours, 


Rev. D. O'Donoghue, P.P., 
St. Brendan's, Ardfert. 

Trimity College, 

Dublin, 9th August, 1 
Dear Father O'Donoghue, 

I received your Brendaniana, and read it with much in 
and I congratulate you on your publication. 

It is clear to me from the " Icebergs, 11 that St. Brendan had . 
in America, for the icebergs hug the Labrador, Newfoundlan 
the Canadian coasts, keeping near the shore by the rotation 
earth. I venture to think that the " great river £. and W." 
St Lawrence and not the Ohio. 

The story of Judas Iscariot, in the Old English Version, : 

Yours sincerely, 


Rev. Denis O'Donoghue, P.P. 


I HAVE compiled this volume of Brendaniana, or a mis- 
cellaneous collection of " matters and things " relating 
to St. Brendan, the patron of the dioceses of Clonfert and 
Ardfert, as well as of my church and parish of Ardfert- 
Brendan, from various sources. I have drawn largely upon 
the texts edited some years ago by Cardinal Moran and 
published in his Acta Sti. Brendani, the most valuable and 
the most accessible repertory we have of " matters Bren- 
danian " — of the most important documents, bearing on the 
history of St. Brendan, whether in its authentic or in its 
legendary phases, and I have translated those texts from 
their mediaeval Latin, as literally as I could, not always an 
easy task, into fairly readable English. I have put into a 
modern English dress, and prepared to present in a com- 
plete and separate form, before readers of English, the famous 
Navigatio, the Latin version of the voyage of St. Brendan, 
which is known as the Brendan Legend par excellence — the 
most widely popular " Tale of the Sea" in the middle ages, 
which had passed, in various shapes and versions, into 
almost every language and dialect of mediaeval Europe. 
What had afforded entertainment, and edification also, to so 
many in those past ages, may surely be read nowadays with 
some interest, and perhaps instruction. To this primary 
legend of the saint I have added some minor ones from the 
luxuriant growthof legend that had clustered around hi* 
name from generation to generation in man^ waxto&fcfc <& 

iv Preface^ 

Europe, and, as occasion served, I have suggested the plain 
and simple facts that may have been the germs of the 
extravagant growth of many of those fanciful legends. 

The most important document I have translated from 
the Acta Sti. Brendani is, undoubtedly, the tract known as 
the Vita Sti. Brendani, or Latin Life of the saint, which 
records many interesting facts of his authentic history, 
after his famous voyages, as well as of the histories of many 
of his contemporary Irish saints, that cannot now be found 
elsewhere; and I have endeavoured to supplement the 
record of those facts by inserting whatever additional notices 
of the saint I could glean from other sources. Instead of 
the early chapters of this Latin Life, I have given the 
portion of the Irish Life from the Booh of Lismore, from 
which those chapters had been evidently borrowed ; and as 
I have accompanied this Irish text — a genuine specimen of 
ancient Gaelic — with a literal English translation, it will, 1 
trust, prove interesting and useful to those readers, who, 
though not Gaelic scholars, may desire to form some 
acquaintance with the venerable language of the Gaodhal. 

In this portion of the Irish Life of St. Brendan, and in 
the copious notes which I have appended to it, will be found 
some accounts of the topography and of the earliest eccle- 
siastical history of ancient Kerry, that ought to interest in 
a special manner my Kerry readers. In other parts of the 
volume also I have noticed some old associations and early 
traditions connected with St. Brendan, of which I could find 
any traces in Kerry ; but which are, alas ! very few and 
faint, and fast disappearing from amongst us. The historical 
sketch of the rise and ruin of the holy places of Ardfert- 
Brendan, which I have prefixed to the volume, will. I hope, 
be interesting to others besides local readers. 

Those who may expect to find in those pages a complete 

Preface. v 

history of St. Brendan, and a finished portraiture of his holy 
life and character, will, I fear, be much disappointed: The 
materials for a history of the saint that have come down to 
us through the waste and wreck of ages are mere fragments, 
the disjecta membra of a great personality, often disguised 
or distorted by a parasitical growth of extravagant legend, 
which twined round the name and fame of St. Brendan 
in singular luxuriance. Those sparse fragments I have 
endeavoured to bind together, and to mould, as best I could, 
into life-like form ; but I know well that my best efforts 
could only [result in a poor and incomplete counterfeit of 
the grand original. I have made no attempt to pourtray 
the virtues of his holy life, and on that head I will only * 
borrow the words of an ancient panegyrist of the saint, 
from a " Fragment " preserved in the Codex Salmanticemis : 
" Who can describe the virtues of St. Brendan — his humility 
and meekness; his charity and tender compassion; his 
patience and gentleness ; his fasting and abstinence ; his 
constant assiduity in prayer? Because he "had perfectly 
fulfilled all the Commandments of Christ, and had faithfully 
practised all those virtues and many others of a like nature, 
the Blessed Brendan, in a good old age, among choirs of 
angels, with great joy and triumph, amid gleaming lights 
and choral psalmody, departed unto the Lord, to whom be 
all honour and glory for ever and ever ! Amen." 

Denis O'Donoghub, P.P. 

St. BftRVDAir's, Abdfsbt, 

F«ut of Si. Brendan, 1898. 



1. The Ancient Cathedral of Ardfert-Brendan, its 

Chapels and Chantries . » Pages xiii-xxviii 

A brief historical account of their erection and destruction ; 
the present ruins a valuable reliquary of sacred architecture 
of various orders and ages in Ireland; remains of early 
damhliag (seventh or eighth century) — of Round Tower— • 
of Hiberno-Romanesque Church (twelfth century). 
Templenahoe — an interesting example of later Hiberno- 
Romanesque ; early Gothic portion of the Cathedral ; the 
choir of later decorated Gothic. Various burnings and 
destructions of the holy places of Ardfert — in a.d. 1089, 
in a.d. 1152, and in a.d. 1180. Their condition under the 
Tudor bishops from a.d. 1588 to a.d. 1611 ; the burning 
and final dismantling of the Cathedral in a.d. 1641 ; the 
Protestant " makeshift " erection in a.d. 1670 ; burial of 
Catholic bishops in the chancel of the ruined Cathedral in 
a.d. 1761. 


2. The " Irish Like of Brendan," from Book of Lismore, 

with Literal English Translation on Opposite 

Pages ..... Pages 1-31 

The birth and parentage of St. Brendan; his baptism by 
Bishop Ere ; his nurture for five years by St. lta ; his 
education and religious training by St. Ere ; miracles then 
wrought by him ; his visit to the saints of Erin, •• to learn 
the rules and practices of a holy life ; " he converts 
St. Cobnan MacLenin, Patron of Cloyne; his visit to 
St. Jar lath, Patron of Tuam, and his first missionary labours 
in Connaught ; u the Rule of the religious life " received by- 
him from an angel; his return to St. Ere, for priestly 
ordination ; his admission to monastic profession : his 
foundation of monasteries in his native district ; his spiritual 
retreats on Brendan-hill; his visions of the "Land of 
Promise " therefrom ; he resolves to sail on the ocean in 
quest of it ; he prepares large vessels for the voyage, which 
he commences with a crew of chosen monks ; the celebration 
of Easter on the back of the great sea-whal*\ \>taTO2&& *& 
the ocean ; the tempests allayed b^ \.Y& \>twjot <& Xaa vsafc. 

viii Contents. 

8. Notes on Irish Life .... Pages 32-103 

' Pedigree of St. Brendan"; Aengus MacNadhfraich, King 
of Munster at the saint's birth; his saintly brothers, 
Domaingin, Faitleac, and Faolan; his sister the holy 
virgin, Sryg; Bishop Ere. first bishop in Kerry— some 
account of him and of his earliest churches ; Fenit, within 
which lay " the precise place " of St. Brendan's birth ; 
Tobar na molt (Wethers' Well), the fountain of his baptism ; 
St. Ita, the foster-mother of the saint — the foundation of 
her convent of Killeedy — her visit to the monastery of 
Ardfert ; Uaimh Brenain (the cave of Brendan's penance), 
now O'Brennan, early nunnery there ; St. Finan Cam, one 
of the first disciples of St. Brendan— his residence near 
Lochlein, and probable foundation of Innisfallen and 
Aghadoe ; the story of the conversion of St. Column of 
Cloyne from the Book of Munster; the religious Rule 
dictated by an angel on the Plain of Aei (Co. Roscommon) ; 
the various motives assigned for the great voyage; 
Brendan-hill — legend of St. Bre clan's residence near it— 
his religious foundations there— pilgrimages thereto— the 
" Pathway of the Saints " — the oratories and churches on 
the summit ; the great voyage— the number of the crew in 
each vessel— the visit to St. Enda of Arann ; the story of 
the great sea- whale — the history and probable genesis of the 
legend ; the prayer of St. Brendan — the Irish version — the 
Latin version {Uratio Sti. Brendani) famous in the middle 
ages— the " Prayer of St. Brendan," from Poem by D. F. 

4. The Voyage of St. Brendan . . Pages 104-178 

A brief but accurate outline of Irish version; the Latin 
version (Navigatio Brendani) in a close and complete English 
translation — in fourteen Chapters : — I. St. Brendan, stimu- 
lated by the example of St. Barinthus to seek the Land of 
Promise ; II. St. Brendan and his companions set sail into 
the ocean; III. Their first discovery of land; IV. They 
visit Sheep-island, and celebrate the Easter festival ; 
V. The Paradise of birds ; VI. The Island of St. Ailbe ; 
VII. They visit other islands ; VIII. They are miraculously 
saved from destruction : IX. The three choirs of saints ; 

£ X. Some wonders of the ocean ; XL A volcanic island ; 
XII. Judas Iscariot— Mathew Arnold's Poem ; XIII. The 
rocky island of the hermit, St. Paul ; XIV. The Paradise 
of Delights—" St. Brendan's Return," by D. F. McCarthy. 

Contents. ix 

5. The Latin Life of St. Brendan . . Pages 179-269 

Introduction ; St. Brendan, after his voyages, founds monas- 
teries in his native district ; his foundations at Inisdadroman 
in the Shannon — at Doora and elsewhere in Clare — his 
relations with St. Facthna (Fachanan) of Ross— with 
St. Senan of Iniscathy — with St. Kudhan of Lorrha (North 
Tipperary), near which he founded a monastery at Tulach- 
Brenain; his miraculous deliverance of a town in Kerry 
* from a pest of insects; his pilgrimage to Britain — his 
missionary labours in Cymric Britain (Wales) — in Armoric 
Britain (Brittany), and in the Orkneys and the Isles of 
North Britain ; he visits St. Gildas the Wise in Brittany ; 
some account of that illustrious saint and of his con- 
temporary, St. Cadoc of Lancarvan, where St. Brendan 
resided for some years, and where he educated his famous 
disciple, St. Machutus or Malo ; the Breton legend of the 
voyage of St. Malo ; St. Brendan commends the patronage 
of St. Brigid — his friendly relations with that saint ; his 
return to Ireland after about ten years' absence in Britain, 
accompanied by many disciples and friends among the 
Britons; his second missionary visit to Connaught-— the 
numerous Kerry migrations thither about the same time ; 
his brother, St. Faitleac, accompanies him — whom he leaves 
in charge of his earliest foundation in Connaught at 
Cluantuascairt (Co. Roscommon) ; he founds a monastery 
at luis-meic-Ichuind (Inisquin) in Lough Corrib— grant of 
the island to hiyt by King Aedh MacEochaidh; Bishop 
ALoennu, his associate at Inisquin and afterwards bishop- 
abbot of Clonfert ; miracles wrought by St. Brendan at 
Inisquin ; he founds his great church and school at Clonfert 
in the 77th year of his age ; his friendly relations with his 
foster-mother, St. Ita, maintained — their spiritual colluquys ; 
the holy virgin, St. Chiar, of Muscraidhe-Tire (North 
Tipperary) performs a great miracle at the request of 
St. Brendan; he visits the saints of Meath— his early 
relations with St. Finnian of Clonard, the " Tutor of the 
Saints of Erin;" he visits the Ard-Kigh Diarmait Mac 
Cearbhail at Tara; his kindly reception by the King; 
Diarmait'8 friendly relations with many of the principal 
saints of bis time — his later conflicts with some of them — 
solemn excommunication of the King and of Tara, after 
which " no king or queen ever again reigned at Tara." — 

ISt. Brendan, in some of his religious instructions, refers to 
incidents of his voyages on the ocean ; he saves the province 
of Connaught from an invasion by Munstermen; he founds 
a convent for nuns at Eanachduin (Annaghdown) probably 
before his foundation at Clonfert, and places hia ei%ta& N 
St. Bryg, to govern it, under bis gvn&urcfe\ \& «a&& wfc 

x Contents. 

"deserts in the sea" on Inisgluair, off the coast of Mayo, 
and on Inisnee, off Connemara, where he builds oratories, 
the ruins of which yet remain; he trains to holiness at 
Inisquin his disciple, St. Meldan, who succeeded him m the 
abbacy there ; the birth of St. Fursey, son of Fintan and 
Qelgeis, in the hospice on the island ; his early nurture and 
education at the monastery by his relative, St. Brendan ; 
•the ministrations of St. Brendan at Clonfert — his public 

E reaching there, and his Masses on the Sundays to the 
itest years of his life ; his intimate relations with St. Canice 
of Kilkenny ; his visit to St. Columba, in the company of 
St. Canice and other eminent saints ; his wonderful vision 
on the occasion ; his visitations of the scenes of his early 
missions in North Britain; his tours of visitation to his 
religious foundations in Munster and West Kerry at a late 
period of his life; he retires to his sister's convent at 
Eanachduin to make immediate preparation for his death ; 
he gives minute instructions for the safe removal of his 
remains for burial to Clonfert ; his holy death on Sunday, 
May 16th ; his solemn obsequies at the church of Clonfert ; 
the widespread devotion to him after his death— the many 
thousand spiritual children who revere his memory and 
confide in his intercession. 

6. Legends of St. Brendan, with Notes . . Pages 270-305 

I. St. Brendan, the Student Harper, and the Angel. 
II. The Three Young Clerics who went on a pilgrimage. 

III. The Holy Well of Brendan's anointing. 

IV. The Island of St. Brendan. 

V. Hy-Brasail, the Isle of the Blest. 

7. Vestiges of Prehistoric Irish Settlements and 

Missions in North America before the Tenth 
Century ..... Pages 306-334 

Prevalence of a belief in the existence of a great Western 
Land among the early Greeks and Latins ; the traditions of 
Atlantis; the Celts in their migrations from the East 
towards the West retained this belief in a great land 
* beyond the Setting Sun ;" the pagan notions of the 
14 Land of Souls ;" early imramha, or Celtic * 4 tales of the 
sea;*' the Christian "Land of Promise of the Saints ;" 
antecedent probability of primeval settlements from Ireland 
on the Western Continent ; residence of Irish ecclesiastics 
on the Faroe Islands and on Iceland in the eighth and ninth 
centuries; discovery of Greenland by Northmen in the 
tenth century; their colonizations there and their dis- 
coveries farther south, ms far as Chesapeake Bay; their 


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Scale T-r-f t v «y % v 


THE group of ecclesiastical remains at Ardfert is one of the 
most interesting and instructive now existing in Ireland. 
The ruins of the ancient Cathedral of St. Brendan, and of 
its annexed chantries and detached chapels, form a very 
complete reliquary of Irish ecclesiastical architecture, in its 
various orders and ages, from the plain but solid Damhliag 
of the seventh or eighth century to some late and most 
ornate examples of mediaeval Gothic. In this respect 
Ardfert-Brendan may rival the glorious group of architec- 
tural relics on St. Patrick's Bock, at Cashel of the Kings ; 
and in common with that invaluable reliquary of Ireland's 
ancient faith and fervent "love of the beauty of God's 
house," it enjoys the singular privilege, not shared at present 
by any other mediaeval Irish cathedral, of being once more 
the property, as a national monument, of the Irish Catholic 
nation, and no longer .the appanage of an alien worship, 
like so many of our sequestered Catholic churches. 

The massive cathedral, in its naked majesty of outline, 
crowned with its coronet of clustering battlements, must 
impress everyone approaching it from any direction with its 
grand architectural features, even though it has none of 
those accessories of "wood, or lake, or mountain," that 
invest other ecclesiastical ruins in Kerry " with beauty, even 
in decay," to enhance its attractions. The noble east window, 
with its central lancet, 30 feet high, is not surpassed in 
lightness and grace by any work of the kind in Ireland, and 
its singular arcade of nine lanceolated windows, popularly 
known as the " Nine Choirs of Angels," on the south side 
of the chancel, presents a feature of architectural beauty 
that is rarely to be seen anywhere. 

The cathedral, as it now stands, or rather as it stood 
before it was finally dismantled in a.d. 1641, was, in its 
diverse component parts, the outgrowth of many centuries, 
and the result of the zealous labours of in«x^ «tt&raK&Krcs> & 

xxv The Ancient Cathedral of St. Brendan, Ardfert f 

St. Brendan to enlarge and beautify it during those cen- 
turies ; and it will be interesting to trace the course of this 
gradual enlargement and improvement by the aid of the 
Plate, showing the plans of the various buildings, that 
illustrates this paper. 

On the plan of the cathedral is shown some ancient 
masonry (marked A). This was incorporated into the north 
wall, about 46 feet from the west end, and extends 38 feet, 
being 14 feet high. The style of this masonry is quite 
different from the rest of the work, being formed of large 
blocks of limestone, some of them 8 feet long, and very 
massive ; and it is sometimes called Cyclopian or Pelasgic, 
from its resemblance to the earliest style of building among 
the ancient Greeks. This is a remnant of an early Damhliag, 
the abbey-church or cathedral, built probably towards the 
close of tne seventh century or in the early years of the eighth, 
in succession to the primitive oratory of St. Brendan's 
foundation, which had already proved too small for the 
increasing community of monks there, as well as unsuitable 
for the functions of the resident bishop. This ancient 
church was probably 25 feet in width, being that of the pre- 
sent cathedral, and should have been, therefore, nwre than 
60 feet in clear length, according to the proportions observed 
in the dimensions of such churches at that age ; and all that 
remains of it at present in situ is this portion of the north 
wall of the cathedral that is composed of the Cyclopian 

In the many descents of the Danes upon, and their 
repeated incursions through, Kerry, in the ninth century, of 
which there is record, they very probably assailed and 
plundered more than once the holy places at Ardfert, though 
there is no special mention of their depredations there. It 
was, I have no doubt, some time within that century that 
the fine Bound Tower of Ardfert was erected on the site 
marked D on the plan. This tower is said to have been one 
of the highest and best built of its kind in Ireland, being 
120 feet in height, and built of dark limestone or marble, 
accurately chiselled and hammered to the round and batter 
of the walls, as can be seen by the stones of it that lie 
scattered about the site in all directions at present: It 
braved many a storm, until towards the end of the last 
century, when, many of its base stones having been 

Its Chapels and Chantries. xv 

removed to the graves round about from time to time, it 
succumbed to a great gale from the east, in a.d. 1771 ; and, 
as local tradition tells, it lay at its full length towards the 
west, not a fragment disturbed, like a huge piece of 
ordnance, for several years, until it was broken up, with 
much labour, to provide stones for enclosing the graveyard 
and other purposes. 

The earliest notice we find in our annals of the burning 
of Ardfert is in a.d. 1089. The Annah of tlie Four Masters 
in that year, after relating how Eory O'Connor, King of 
Connaught, and his ally, Dona! O'Meleachlin, son of the 
Ard-Righ, "went in boats and ships, and plundered all 
Munster," record, immediately after, that " Cork, Imleach 
(Emly), and Ardfert were burned ; " but do not state 
whether this was done by the invaders or not; nor can 
we otherwise ascertain who were the incendiaries of those 
sacred shrines at this date. 

The Damhliag of Ardfert was very probably burned down 
on this occasion, and the portion of its north wall yet stand- 
ing bears unmistakable tokens of a great conflagration in 
the number of the stones on its inside face that were 
calcined in a remarkable manner. After this catastrophe 
the holy places of Ardfert lay ruined and desolate for some 
time ; and it may have been for this reason thafr at the great 
National Synod of Kathbrasail, held a few years afterwards, 
it was proposed and sanctioned that the See of the then 
united dioceses of Ardfert and Aghadoe should be thence- 
forth at Rathmhuighe-deascart (Rathass, near Tralee), where 
a large church, the venerable remains of which still exist, 
was erected some time previously, even though a bishop, 
named Anmchadh Ua h'Anmchadha, was at the time Bishop 
of Ardfert, who died there in a.d. 1117, according to the 
Annals of the Four Masters, in anno. 

But the devout clients of St. Brendan, throughout his 
native Kerry, would not suffer the ancient Sedes Brendani at 
Ardfert to oe thus shorn of its honour and dignity as the 
episcopal see. Hence we find, soon after, as successor to 
Anmchadh as Bishop of Ardfert, one who more than 
restored the pristine glories of the sacred shrine of the 
saint. This was Melbrennan O'Bonan, sometimes called 
MacRonan, who was consecrated bishop early in the twelfth 
century, the precise year not known ; and who, as Bishop <*t 

xvi The Ancient Cathedral of St. Brendan, Ardfert, 

Ardfert, attended the National Synod of Kells, or Drogheda, 
in a.d. 1151, held by Cardinal John Papiron, under the pre- 
sidency of Christian, Bishop of Lismore, who was the special 
friend of Melbrennan. He died, as the Annals tell, " on the 
10th of the Kalends of October, and was buried at Ardfert." 
He seems to have been a remarkable man in his time. In the 
record of his death, in the genuine Annals of Inisfallen, he 
is styled, in the Irish text, what signifies in English : — 
" Archbishop of the West of Ireland, a model of chastity, 
a master of the religious life and of almsdeeds for Western 
Erin." His name, Maolbrenain (devoted client of Brendan), 
bespeaks his special devotion to the holy patron of Ardfert ; 
and he manifested this in a signal manner early in his 
episcopacy. He probably found the holy place a mass of 
ruins ; and, like the prophet* of old, he may well have cried 
out : " The house of our holiness and of our glory, where 
our fathers praised Thee, Lord, is burnt with fire, and all 
our lovely things are turned into ruins." But he lost no 
time in idle plaints; he soon erected, beside the ruined 
damhliag, a beautiful Hiberno-Romanesque church, which 
far surpassed in beauty and grace the " lovely things " that 
had been destroyed. The site of this is shown in outline 
on the plan, and a very interesting portion of the work 
(marked B) yet survives in the western door and adjoining 
arcade in the west gable of the cathedral, from a study of 
which, even in its weather-worn and sadly-damaged condi- 
tion, we may infer what a perfect gem of Celtic architecture 
the whole church must have been when completed. It was 
finished very probably some time before a.d. 1150, and the 
bishop had, perhaps, restored the burned damhliag about 
the same time ; so that when he appeared before the 
assembled fathers at the National Synod, in 1151, he was 
able to claim for Ardfert the possession of the finest and 
largest churches in the united diocese, and, therefore, most 
suitable for cathedral purposes. We find no reference after- 
wards to the project of transferring the diocesan see to 
Bathass ; but we know that church received a certain 
solatium in being attached to the deanship, the highest 
dignity of the Cathedral of Ardfert. 
But another dire calamity befel those churches of 

• Isaias, lxiv. 10. 

Its Chapels and Chantries. xvii 

Ardfert soon after. At the very time that the bishops and 
minor clergy of Ireland were in Synod at Kells, a ferocious 
civil war was raging throughout Munster between the 
Dalcassians of Thomond (the O'Briens) and the Eugenian 
tribes of Desmond (the MacCarthys), with their numerous 
allies on both sides. An implacable feud had long subsisted 
between those great families, and this was intensified by a 
treacherous murder of one of the most distinguished chiefs 
of the MacCarthys, committed some years before by 
Turlough O'Brien, Prince of Thomond. In 1138 the 
annalists record the murder by treachery, in his own resi- 
dence at Cashel, of Cormac, Bishop-King of Munster, the 
founder of the beautiful Celtic church, adjoining his palace, 
known as Cormac's Chapel, the perpetrator of the combined 
murder and sacrilege being Turlough, son of Dermot O'Brien, 
who was aided in the commission of the crime by the two 
sons of Dermot Sugach O'Connor-Kerry. In 1150, at the 
disastrous battle of Moinmore, the forces of the O'Briens 
were almost annihilated by the MacCarthys and their allies ; 
and Turlough, the assassin of Cormac, who had assumed 
the kingship of Munster, was dethroned, and forced to fly a 
hunted fugitive to the North of Ireland. 

Dermot MacCarthy, son of Cormac, became King of 
Desmond, and he lost no time in wreaking a terrible ven- 
geance on the O'Connors-Kerry for their share in the 
murder of his father. He invaded Ciarraighe-Luachra, and 
swept the principality of the O'Connors with fire and sword. 
" He expelled and plundered," as the Annals of the Four 
Masters tell, a.d. 1152, "DiarmaidUa Conchobair, Lord of 
Ciarraighe-Luachra ; " and his faithful ally, Cormac Ui 
Coilleane, chief of Hy-Conail-Gabhra (West Limerick), pur- 
sued the family of the defeated O'Connors towards Ardfert ; 
and when the fugitives had taken refuge in the churches 
there, this ferocious soldier disregarded the sacredness 
of their sanctuary ; and the Annals of Innisf alien record, 
a.d. 1152, that " Cormac O'Coilleane burned Adfearta- 
Brenain, in which were the favourites of Dermot Sugach 
O'Connor." This was a deplorable and disgraceful incident 
in a calamitous civil war, which, as the Annalists relate, 
"grievously injured Munster in Church and State, so that 
a great dearth prevailed there, and many perished oi 
famine." Bishop Melbrennan had sad occa&\ou *$g&ci \*> 

xviii TJie Ancient Cathedral of St. Brendan, Ard/ert, 

deplore the destruction by fire of the sacred places of 
Ardfert, the sacrilegious incendiaries being mostly his own 
spiritual children, the subjects of his own diocese. He lived 
nine years after the deplorable event, and, no doubt, repaired 
and restored to their sacred purposes, as soon as possible, 
those ruined churches, in the erection and decoration of 
which he had not long previously expended much labour and 
treasure. We read of no further attack upon or injury to 
the Ardfert churches until a.d. 1180, when the Annals of 
Innisf alien records that " this year was very fatal to the 
clergy generally ; Inisfathlin was plundered. . . . Ardfert- 
Brendan was wasted by the Clan Carthy ; they took v/hat- 
ever spoil of cattle they found, and slew many chiefs in 
the very sanctuary of the church itself ; but God quickly 
avenged the act, for many of the plunderers were slain on 
the spot." 

It is stated that on this occasion the churches and abbey 
of Ardfert were utterly destroyed. The bishop at the time 
was Donald O'Conarchy, probably a relative of Christian 
O'Conarchy, who had resigned the see of Lismore and 
retired to the monastery of Kyrie-Eleison, Odomey, where 
he died in the odour of sanctity in a.d. 1186. He had been 
consecrated bishop of Ardfert, some years after the demise 
of Melbrennan O'Bonan, and occupied the see until his 
death in a.d. 1193. Upon him now devolved the painful 
and difficult task of repairing the ruin wrought upon his 
churches at Ardfert by the sacrilegious and destructive raid 
of the Clan Carthy. He probably found the damage done to 
the beautiful Hiberno-Komanesque church, built by his 

Eredecessor, as well as to the ancient damhliag beside it, to 
e quite irreparable, and he seems to have therefore thought 
it best to build a new church with their materials, some 
distance apart, and thus clear the site on which they stood, 
for the erection of a larger church, more suitable for cathedral 
purposes, at some future period. Hence, I believe, he pro- 
ceeded to build the beautiful little church marked (C) on the 
plan, using mostly the materials of the ruined churches for 
the purpose, as its walls, standing almost complete at pre- 
sent, plainly indicate, consisting very much either of gross 
limestone blocks, like those in the remnant of the dcmliliag 
in the north wall of the cathedral, or of finely-dressed and 
squared sandstone ashlars, intermingled with the rubble 

Its Chapels and Chantries. xix 

masonry, in a manner that would show they had been 
already dressed and used in the walls of the ruined Celtic 
church, which had been, I believe, wholly faced with similar 
red sandstone ashlars. 

Bishop Donald was, as I have surmised, a relative of his 
namesake, Blessed Christian O'Conarchy of Odorney ; and I 
suspect he had been, like him, a Cistercian monk, the first 
of many members of that illustrious Order, who filled the 
see of Ardfert from time to time, during the following 
centuries. He had been very probably also, like those 
Cistercian bishops who succeeded him, a member of the 
community of the abbey of Our Lady of Kyrie-Eleison, 
Odorney. Having been, therefore, a son of St. Bernard, who 
• was the great doctor of devotion to the Blessed Virgin in his 
time, he displayed the devout spirit of that great saint by 
dedicating his new church to the Mother of God. Hence it 
has been known since its erection, down to the present day, 
as Teampul na-h' oigh (Temple of the Blessed Virgin). It 
originally consisted of a nave and chancel ; the walls of the 
nave being yet standing, but the chancel, or semi-hexagonal 
apse, save its arch, having disappeared utterly. It is remark- 
able throughout for beautiful and delicate details of design 
and workmanship, and the singularly classical character of 
many of its mouldings w Mr. Brash, a competent judge, who 
has an interesting notice of it* writes : — " The architectural 
student cannot fail to be struck by the singularity of the 
style of this curious little edifice — so different from what he 
has been accustomed to meet in buildings of a similar age 
elsewhere. The quoin shafts, the impost termination of the 
barges, the enriched eave-string, the peculiar ornamentation 
of the windows and of the chancel arch, are all features not 
to be met with in that style of architecture in other 
countries, and must, therefore, have been the result of 
native design." 

Temple na-hoe was finished before 1190 ; but Bishop 
Donald died in 1193, and had not therefore much time nor 
opportunity for building the new cathedral of St. Brendan, 
for which he had cleared the ground, and probably laid the 
plans. The execution of the design fell to his immediate 
successor, Bishop David O'Duibhditribh, who showed energy 

* EocUeiattical Architecture of Ireland, p. 39. 

xx The Ancient Cathedral of St. Brendan, Ardfert, 

and zeal for the honour of his Church, in another critical 
matter, sufficient to qualify him for carrying out the great 
work of the erection of his cathedral. He was canonically 
elected by the Chapter of Ardfert, which seems to have been 
fully organised at that time, and was consecrated soon after ; 
but the Archbishop of Cashel, Mathew O'Heney, consecrated 
a rival bishop, and intruded him into the diocese. Bishop 
David appealed to the Holy See, and Pope Innocent III., 
in an Epistle* addressed to the Archbishop of Armagh 
and the Bishops of Clonfert and Kilmacduagh, directed 
them to remove the intruded bishop, and to suspend 
the archbishop who consecrated him, if he proved con- 

David was acting as bishop before the date of this 
Epistle, for he witnessed as bishop, in 1199, "a charter 
granted by Meiler FitzMeiler FitzHenry, temp : King John, to 
the hospital of St. John Baptist, founded at Kathoo in that year 
by Friar William." He probably commenced the erection 
of his church of St. Brendan soon after this date, and with a 
loving veneration for the previous sacred shrines that had 
occupied the site, he embodied some characteristic relics of 
them in the new cathedral, so that in its north wall we have 
.at the present day a notable remnant of the ancient damhliag 
and in its western gable, the fine door and ornate arcade 
that graced the beautiful Hiberno-Romanesque church of 
Melbrennan O'Bonan. This new cathedral consisted of the 
nave, marked (E) on the plan, extending from the west 
gable, in which there were then two fine pointed lancet 
windows, since built up, to near the Rood-loft, as shewn on 
plan, or about 85 feet in length, and of the adjoining south 
aisle, with its three arched bays. There was a short chancel 
which was lighted by three lancet- windows on the south, 
afterwards built i4>, and also, no doubt, by some lights in 
an eastern gable, which was removed when the great chancel, 
that we see at present, was added. The relic of the vener- 
able damhliag seems to have been the dominant factor in the 
plan of this church, for it determined the curious position of 
the west door, so strangely off the axis of the building, and 
also the singular elevation of the two north windows, which 
were placed over its cyclopian masonry at an unusual height 

♦Theiner, Vetera Homumenta, a.d. 1201. 

Its Chapels and Chantries. xxi 

in the wall, as well as the corresponding elevation of the 
three chancel lights on the south side. This church, I 
believe, was completed before the death of Bishop David, 
which occurred shortly before a.d. 1215. In an authentic 
account* of the election of his successor, we find that the 
Cathedral Chapter assembled on the occasion, in majori 
Ardfertensi ecclesia, and there elected, in due form, Dean 
Gilbert to be bishop of that church. The " greater church 
of Ardfert " here referred to, could have been no other, at 
the date, than that erected, as I have suggested, by Bishop 

The style of this church was early Gothic, and it is one 
of the earliest examples of that style that remains in Ireland. 
The doors, windows, aisle-arches, &c, of this portion show 
plain chamfers and severe mouldings, perfectly in keeping 
with early Gothic, but quite different from the architectural 
treatment of the later chancel, which evidently belongs to 
the period of richly decorated Gothic, towards the close of 
the thirteenth century and the. beginning of the following 
one. In the added chancel all the details, as well as the 
general lines, are extremely fine; the mouldings of the 
windows, the sedilia, the niches beside the great eastern 
window, are all richly designed, and the foliage carving very 
ornate and original in its character. This chancel is marked 
(F) on the plan. I believe that this beautiful jwork was 
executed by Bishop Nicholas II., who succeeded another 
Nicholas, in the see of Ardfert, in a.d. 1288, and died at a 
great age in a.d. 1336, after the longest reign (forty-eight 
years) ever vouchsafed to a coinharb of St. Brendan at Ardfert. 
He was a remarkable man in other respects also, and certain 
tales remain on record regarding some incidents in his long 
life that would call for explanation if there was occasion to 
offer it. But from what I know of his history, I am disposed 
to urge on his behalf that " the evil that men do lives after 
them, the good is oft interred with their bones." So may it 
have been with Bishop Nicholas of Ardfert. He has, at 
least, as I firmly believe, left a noble monument of his "love 
of the beauty of God's house" in the superb choir of 
St. Brendan's Cathedral. 

The chantry, marked (G) on the plan, was probably built 

♦Theiner, Vetera Documenta, Ep. Papre, Honorii !!!.,•▲.&. 1218. 

xxii The Ancient Cathedral of St. Brendan, Ardfert, 

soon after, when the sacristy, marked (L), was provided, 
from which a wide archway opened into the annexed chapel. 
Another chantry on the south side, marked (I), was added 
at a later period, probably as a mortuary chapel of one of 
the Bishops Stack (three) who held the see of Ardfert during 
a large portion of the fifteenth century, and may have been 
therefore the " Bishop Stack's Tomb," where the remains 
of Thomas, Lord Kerry, were interred in 1590, when the 
Elizabethan garrison of Ardfert Abbey barbarously denied 
them a place there in his ancestral tomb within the 
Franciscan church. It was probably during the episcopacy 
of Maurice Stack (1438-1451), or during that of John Stack 
(1458-1476) the finely-built stepped battlements were 
set on the flank walls of the cathedral for purposes 
of defence, which add so much to its imposing aspect, 
and about the same time an excellent example of poly- 
gonal masonry, the western chapel, marked (H) on the 
plan, called Temple-na-griffen t was built for a " morning 
chapel, " as local tradition avers, where daily Mass was 
offered when the cathedral was reserved for festivals and 
solemn functions. 

I have thus traced the gradual evolution and embellish- 
ment of the cathedral of Ardfert-Brendan, with its annexed 
chantries and detached chapels, as briefly as I could. In 
this good order and condition they stood, as far as we can 
ascertain, when the momentous crisis, sometimes called the 
" Eeformation," but which should be more properly known 
in these countries as the "Tudor Settlement/' suddenly 
burst upon Church and State, in the sixteenth century. The 
bishop of Ardfert was then James Fitzrichard Peirse, alias 
Fitzmaurice, the last Catholic bishop who pontificated in 
the cathedral of St. Brendan. The desolating wars, provoked 
and promoted to establish the " Tudor Settlement " in Kerry 
soon gathered round Ardfert and its devoted clergy and 
people. The bishop was expelled in 1579 from his cathedral 
by the soldiers of Elizabeth, and was forced to seek refuge 
in the camp of his friend, the ill-fated Earl of Desmond, 
where, as Dr. Sanders tells, " he shared all the perils of 
the soldiery," for some time. He died in a.d. 1583, the 
same year that the Earl of Desmond was hunted to his death 
in Glananuinte. He was scarcely cold in his grave, when 
the ministers of Elizabeth issued a decree of attaindre against 

Its Chapels and Chantries. xxiii 

him, and confiscated his little estate near Ardfert, granting 
it to one of the vultures of the " Tudor Settlement." 

Then the Tudor "Head of the Church " issued her 
Letters Patent to one Nicholas Keenan, who was declared 
thereby to be " a meet person, who, by his good doctrine, 
&c., might reduce the people to a more Christian knowledge 
and the fear of God ; " and thus Dr. Nick. Keenan was 
installed as the first Tudor bishop of Ardfert in a.d. 1588, 
by the grace of Elizabeth's soldiers, who swarmed around 
the place at the time. After some years'he fled from Ardfert 
and on his death the second Tudor bishop, Dr John Crosbie, 
was inducted into the cathedral of St. Brendan, in 1600, by 
the myrmidons of the Tudor queen. Meanwhile a Catholic 
bishop, in succession to the deceased James Fitzmaurice, 
had been duly appointed by the Pope, on August 9th, 
a.d. 1591, in the person of Dr. Michael Fitz Walter, with a 
dispensation for " his retention of the deanship of Christ 
Church in the city of Dublin," of which he had oeen Dean 
" until he obtained peaceable possession of the church of 
Ardfert, or of the greater part of the diocese."* 
Alas ! this term of the dispensation never arrived in 
Dr. Fitz Walter's life-time. The Tudor appointee, John 
Crosbie, held possession of the Cathedral of St. Brendan, 
and we will now see how it fared at his* hands. In the 
Carew MSS., a.d. 1611, we have record of a project of law, 
or, as it is entitled, an " Act for the re-edifying and repair- 
ing of cathedral and parochial churches in Ireland." By 
this law, the churches " standing and not ruined" were to 
be repaired at the cost of the bishops, chapters, &c, con- 
cerned ; but those " ruined and not standing " were to be 
re-edified at the charge both of the clergy and laity of each 
diocese concerned. It goes on to enumerate the cathedrals 
in those two categories, and among those " ruined and not 
standing," instead of which new churches should be built, 
we find " the cathedral of Ardfert ; " and it is provided that 
"Ardfert in Kerry should be re-edified in Dingle-chuse," 
where, I suppose, the Protestant interest was considered to 
be stronger than it was at Ardfert. Here we have conclusive 
testimony that after about thirty years of Protestant custody, 
the cathedral of St. Brendan, " the outgrowth of many 

* Dr. Brady's Epiuopdl Stweemon, n^.*u.> >*V. 

xxiv The Ancient Cathedral of St Brendan, Ardfert, 

centuries, and the result of the zealous labours of many 
successors of St. Brendan in enlarging and beautifying it," 
had become an irreparable ruin. Hence we can well under- 
stand why it was that Dr. John Crosbie, when he furnished 
a report to Royal Commissioners in a.d. 1615, of the state 
of the diocese, and the condition of its churches at that 
time, while he reports in detail of so many parochial churches 
being " down," either wholly or in part, of so many being 
" vacant and waste," he observes a discreet silence as to the 
condition of the cathedral, and has not a word in his report 
in reply to the query about it. 

The cathedral was therefore completely ruined, and must 
have been utterly unfit even for the alien worship of the 
" Tudor Settlement " many years before the final catastrophe 
befel it, by the burning of the adjacent castle of Lord Kerry, 
in 1641, during the wars of the Catholic Confederation. 
When Patrick, Lord Kerry, who had re-built this fine castle 
in 1637, and was residing in it when the war commenced, 
had sided with the Puritan party, and fled away to England, 
the Council of the Confederates in Kerry directed one of 
their captains, Patrick Lawlor, to burn down his castle at 
Ardfert ; when in the conflagration the spreading flames 
caught the adjoining cathedral, and burned and dismantled 
it almost as we see it at present. The site of Lord Kerry's 
castle is marked (M) on the plan, and it was truly an ill- 
starred edifice. I have the date-stone of its erections, show- 
ing " K : 1570," and under this "PK : 1637," meaning that 
it was first completed by the then Lord Kerry in a.d. 1570, 
and, being destroyed in the Desmond wars a few years 
after, was rebuilt by Patrick, Lord Kerry, completed in 
a.d. 1637, and burned down four years later, when he basely 
deserted it, and the cause of his faith and country at the 
same time. 

The dismantled cathedral remained desolate ever since. 

The various bishops, as well as the many deans and chapters 

of the " Tudor Settlement," who succeeded each other in 

the enjoyment of its revenues and estates, made no attempt 

to repair or restore it for any sacred purpose. About 1668, 

the widow of the refugee Patrick, Lord Kerry, who died and 

18 buried in London some years previously, presented 

rself before the Dean and Chapter of Ardfert, begging from 

em what had been denied so shamefully to Lord Kerry's 

Its Chapels and Chantries. xxv 

family in 1590, within the church of their own foundation at 
Ardfert Abbey, " a burial-place for self and posterity." As 
the curious legend round her tomb-stone in " the re-edified 
chappie," marked (G) on the plan tells, she received this 
"burial-place, 1 ' "according to agreement with the Dean 
and Chapter of Ardfert," in a.d. 1668. When she had got 
possession from the Dean and Chapter, what a mournful task 
was hers — to build this family tomb from the ruins of her 
own and her husband's castle that lay close at hand, to pull 
down what remained of its fabric; piok out its well-cut 
Elizabethan windows, and insert them as they are to be seen 
to-day in the walls of her " re-edified chappie." Sic transit 
gloria mundi — from the castle to the tomb ! 

The sequel of the story is interesting, if not edifying. 
The " consideration " the aged Dowager Honora seems to 
have rendered for " her agreement" with the venerable Dean 
and Chapter of the cathedral was the remnant of the 
materials of the ruined castle, whereby they built up or 
patched up the very unsightly fabric, marked (K) on the 
plan, which did duty as a Protestant cathedral of Ardfert 
from that day (about 1670) to within a few years ago, when 
on the eve of " Disestablishment " the new Protestant church 
was built there. The miserable " makeshift " of 1670 was 
" run up " with the spare materials of Dame Honora's castle, 
and the Elizabethan windows thereof were # strangely evis- 
cerated and deformed to adapt them for service in the new 
hybrid edifice, where they are yet visible as curious architec- 
tural puzzles. The pointed gable of the Stack chantry, with 
its quatre-foil window of fine workmanship, was pulled 
down ; the flank wall of the south aisle of the cathedral, 
with its finely-dressed thirteenth century door, shared the 
same fate on the occasion ; and this early Gothic doorway, 
as well as the quatre-foil window of the dismantled chantry, 
were "impressed" into the front gable of this motley 
erection, which was capped with the belfry " borrowed *' 
from the western gable of Temple-na-griffen, where it had for 
long years supported the bell that summoned the Catholic 
people to the daily Mass. In preparing this emergency 
church for their service, the Dean and Chapter walled up the 
two beautiful archways of fifteenth century work, opening from 
the chantry into the nave of the cathedral, and transferred 
the finely-wrought monumental effigy of Bishop Stack from 

xxvi The Ancient Cathedral of St. Brendan, Ardfert, 

its due placein his chantry to the open cathedral, where it 
lies at present, popularly known as Bishop Stack's tomb, but 
sadly neglected and damaged. 

After this characteristic exploit in church-building, the 
Venerable Dean and Chapter of Ardfert seem to have relin- 
quished all care of the cathedral, though they were its legal 
custodians. Full scope was given to what Caesar Otway 
once called " the busy and fond superstition that turned the 
interior of our churches into places of much-desired sepul- 
ture, and thus helped to deface and destroy what the greed 
of Tudor courtiers and the curse of Cromwell had spared." 
The interiors of the cathedral and of all its chapels, being 
thus derelict, were quickly converted into places of sepulture 
by the people of the surrounding districts ; and in the course 
of generations became thronged with confused masses of ill- 
kept graves and tombs, discreditable alike to the people and 
to the legal custodians of the holy places. From this pro- 
miscuous occupation of the sacred precincts for interments 
was strictly reserved one spot only, the most sacred and 
venerated place within the cathedral, viz., the site whereon 
had stood the high altar, the centre of the grand ceremonial 
of the solemn Mass, and of the highest episcopal functions, 
in the days of the cathedral's liturgical splendour. This 
holy place was secured— by what contrivance I know not — 
as the burial-place of the Catholic bishops who had been 
exiled from their cathedral during life, but who should, after 
death, repose, as the rightful owners, within its sanctuary. 
Dr. Nicholas Madgett, Bishop of Ardfert and Aghadoe 
(1753-1774), ventured, in the darkest hour of the dark and 
evil days of the last century, to bring the mortal remains of 
two of his predecessors, viz., Dr. Denis Moriarty (1719-1739) 
and Dr. Owen O'Sullivan (1739-1743), who had resided in 
Dingle, had died and were buried there, a long and wearisome 
journey over the mountains of Corcaguiney, and to deposit 
them in the place of honour under the high altar of 
St. Brendan's Cathedral at Ardfert. It was an act of noble 
Christian courage to do this at that fearful time, and lit 
was an exercise of genuine Christian piety towards the 
deceased bishops, so long exiles from their rightful cathedral, 
thus to mingle therein their ashes with the sacred dust 
of the long line of their Catholic predecessors. The brave 
bishop set up a slab over the remains, with an inscrip- 

Its Chapels and Chantries. xxvii 

tion, the only part of which that was legible fifty years ago 
was : — 

Orate pro ... is Dump: Moriarty et Eugenio 
0' Sullivan . . . Episeopis Kerriens : us sculps: 
Joannes Roache. 25 Mart is. A: Dnl: 1762. 

Twelve years after this date, Dr. Nicholas Madgett was 
summoned to his crown, and was laid at rest, as he earnestly 
desired, beside the mortal remains of the two predecessors 
whom he had so nobly honoured in death, under the site of 
the great altar of the cathedral, where a large tombstone, 
set up fifty years ago by a Catholic curate of Ardfert, bears 
an inscription, still legible, which records the interment 
underneath of these three Catholic bishops. 

All this time the Venerable Dean and Chapter of Ardfert 
seem to have been content with the motley church of 1670, 
and made no move towards repairing or restoring the. 
cathedral ; but, after nearly two hundred years, the vener* 
able corporation seem to have had some " compunctious 
visitings ; " and in the year 1852 they admitted, in a public 
appeal they made for funds, "that the period had arrived 
when an effort should be made for its restoration to the uses 
of religion " ! They formed a strong committee, consisting 
of the Lord Bishop of the united dioceses of Limerick, 
Ardfert, and Aghadoe, of the Dean of Ardfert, the two arch- 
deacons, the local proprietor, and five of the smartest 

Protestant clergymen then in Kerry. The appeal states : 

" The Dean and Chapter of Ardfert are laudably anxious to 
have their suspended cathedral functions restored to exer- 
cise ! . . . A moderate sum will, it is calculated, restore 
this ancient edifice to a state of substantial repair, though 
certainly to no unbecoming degree of splendour. . . . They 
confidently look for assistance from the various motives of 
Christian liberality, antiquarian zeal, and sympathy with an 
effort by l a poore see' to regain something of its ancient 
ecclesiastical position " ! 

This " touching" appeal evoked no satisfactory response 
through any of " the various motives " that were supposed 
to actuate the Protestant community ; the " moderate^ sum" 
was not forthcoming, and this latest effort of the Dean and 
Chapter of Ardfert to restore their cathedral *" to the us&a 

xxviii The Ancient Cathedral of St. Brendan, do. 

of religion/' and thus to repair, to some extent, the evil 
effects of long-continued neglect, proved an utter failure. 

The ancient cathedral, with its annexed chantries and 
chapels, is now, and for some years back, a national monu- 
ment, to be cared for and preserved no longer by the 
" disestablished " Dean and Chapter of Ardfert, but by the 
officials of the Irish nation. When, according to law, neces- 
sary repairs were being made in the buildings, a few years 
ago, under the supervision of the Board of Public Works, I 
met the architect in charge on the ground ; and, drawing his 
attention to the unsightly excrescence of the Protestant 
" makeshift " of 1670, which had been relinquished as a place 
of worship some time before, I asked what he proposed to do 
with it, and he at once replied that his desire would be to clear 
away every stone of it, as it was a hideous blot upon the 
cathedral. This, however, has not been done ; and, perhaps, 
it is well that this wretched thing should remain as a stand- 
ing memorial ^nd witness of what little the wealthy Tudor 
Establishment in Ardfert and Kerry could or would do for 
the honour of God's house, during the centuries of its posses- 
sion, in contrast with the beautiful " reliquary of sacred 
architecture " left us there by the lawful successors of 
St. Brendan in past ages 

The monumental effigy shown within the niche, at the 
Epistle side of the great eastern window, was found about 
sixty years ago, at a depth of six feet, in front of the site of 
the high altar of the cathedral, by persons who were sink- 
ing for a new tomb there. The style of its carving indicates 
a very ancient work — probably contempoAneous with the 
Hiberno-Eomanesque churches at Ardfert. The figure is 
popularly known «as that of St. Brendan, but it was more 
probably a recumbent effigy over the tomb of one of his suc- 
cessors, either bishop or abbot, in Ardfert, in the eleventh or 
twelfth century, which had been covered over by some later 
works in the chancel of the thirteenth century. The right 
hand of the figure is raised in blessing, and the left hand bears 
a crozier, with the crook turned inwards. It was placed by 
the people of Ardfert, soon after its discovery, in the niche 
where it stands at present, which had been originally pre- 
pared for a larger statue. 




IN the following pages are given the text and 
translation, with some notes, of what may be called 
the biographical portion of the Betha Brenainn (Irish 
Life of Brendan) from the Book of Lismore, a MS. con- 
taining lives of some of the early Irish saints and many 
other ancient documents, written, as O'Curry tells us, 
" in Gaelic of great purity and antiquity." It is now 
the property of the Duke of Devonshire, and is kept 
in Lismore Castle, Co. Waterford, where it was dis- 
covered in 1814, by some workmen in a walled-up door 
or passage, concealed in a wooden box, along with a 
beautifully worked antient crozier; hence its name, 
Book of Lismore. But it ought to be called rather the 
Book of MacCarthy Beagh, for it is now ascertained 
that it was compiled, in the latter half of the fifteenth 
century, from the lost Book of Monasterboice and from 
other ancient MSS. for Finghin MacCarthy Eiabhach, 
and his wife Catharine, daughter of Thomas, eighth 
Earl of Desmond. It is also known that it had been 
seen and examined by Michael O'Clery, one of the 
Four Masters, in Timoleague Abbey, Co. Cork, on the 
20th June, 1629. Thence it was carried to Lismore 
Castle, probably by one of the Franciscan friars of 
Timoleague Abbey, who sought refuge there when his 
convent was despoiled, and deposited fat \$s&tast 

2 Brendaniana. 

security with the ancient crozier of the Bishop of 
Lismore, and other precious relics, in that stronghold. 
This castle sustained several sieges during the wars of 
the Catholic Confederation, after 1641 ; and it was, very 
probably, during one of those sieges that the box 
containing the Book and the crozier was built into a 
doorway for concealment from the besieging enemies. 

Soon after its discovery, in 1814, the Book was lent, 
as O'Curry informs us in his Lectures on the MS. 
Materials, to an Irish scribe in Cork, where it was sadly 
mutilated, and many of the " staves " purloined — about 
one-third of the whole, O'Curry believed. Among the 
parts thus removed was the " JBetha Brenainn; " and it 
was many years afterwards when the stolen portions 
were traced, principally through the exertions of O'Curry 
himself, and copies of them made by him were added to 
the copies he had already most carefully made of the other 
portions for the Koyal Irish Academy, that this " Betha 
Brenainn " was restored to its proper place in O'Curry's 
fine copies of the " Book " as we have them at present. 

The Irish text I have printed from a copy of 
O'Curry's transcript in the Koyal Irish Academy, made 
made many years ago by the late Mr. W. M. Hennessy, 
which he kindly lent to me for this purpose. . I give the 
text, with his reading of the contractions, which I find 
to be almost identical with that lately published by 
Dr. Whitley Stokes, in his Lives of Saints from the 
Book of Lismore, in Anecdote Oxoniensia. 

I had made the translation as literally as I could 
before I saw Dr. Stokes' publication ; but when I read 
the work, I found his rendering of some passages 

Irish Life of Brendan. 3 

that puzzled me more satisfactory than my own, 
and I took the liberty of adopting it — a liberty which 
I hope he will graciously pardon. I have also taken 
into my text some additions from the Paris and 
Egerton MS. copies of this Beth a Brenainn, which 
Dr. Stokes had adopted and placed within brackets in 
his edition, and which I mark off in my text in a like 

The notes I append, in illustration of some historical 
and topographical references in the text, will, I trust, be 
found useful and interesting to those who may desire to 
know something about the places and persons that 
were associated in some way with the history of 
St. Brendan in his native Kerry. 

The portion of the Betlm that I print and translate 
forms about one-half of the whole text, as it is found in 
the Book of humor e y or in any other copy that # has been ' 
yet discovered. This gives, in a simple and archaic 
style, the outline of the life of Brendan up to and 
including his setting sail on his famous voyages in quest 
of the " Land of Promise of the Saints ;" the remainder 
of the text consists almost entirely of the Irish version 
of those voyages in a fragmentary and imperfect form, 
but which is very interesting and valuable, as containing 
the earliest germs, the protoplasm, so to speak, of the 
later and more finished Latin versions of the Brendan 
legend. I will give a summary of this Irish version as 
an introduction to my translation of the most perfect 
and accurate text of the Latin version, namely, The 
Navigatio Brendani, edited some years ago by Cardinal 
Moran in his Acta StL Brendani. 


, "Beatna vir qui timet Dominum, in mandatis ejus volet nimis." 
(Pb. cad. ▼. 1.) 

Is fechtnacb 7 as firen foirbhthe in fer forsa mbi ecla 
7 in^amim an Coimded cumacbtaigb 7 accobbras coder- 
mhair timna 7 forceatal De do comallad, amail, luaitter 
i canoin petarlaice 7 nuihiadnissi in t-aithiuscso. 

Sochaidhi tra do uasalaithribb 7 d'faidibh 7 d'apsta- 
laib 7 do deisciplaib in Choimdhedh, frisi ndebbradh i 
petarlaic 7 i nuilhiadnissi in t-aitbeasc-sa .i. a bheitb 
fecbtnacb firen forbbtbe forasta ar accobar 7 ar ailgius 
leo na timna 7 in forcetuil diadha do comhallad, 7 
ar imecla in Coimdedh cofoirbhthe 'na cridibh 7 
na menmannaibb cen scrutain aili acbt mad sin 

A oen iarum don luct-sin in nuifhiadnissi inti'dia ata 
litb 7 foraithmet ind ecmong na ree-sea 7 na haimsiri 
.i. hixvii. kl. Iuin. .i. Brenain macFinnlogha do sblict 
Ceir meic Fbergbusa. Ceann creitme 7 crabhaidh 
ermboir in domuin uili inti noem-Brenainn ; .i. amail 
Abraham n'irisech. Saihncbetlaid primbfhathacdai 
amail Daibith mac Iese. Ecnaid derrscaightech 
amail Sholmain mac n Daibid. Bechtaidhi amail 


"Blessed is the man who feareth the Lord; he shall delight 
exceedingly in His commandments." (Fs. cxi. vs. 1.) 

Blessed and righteous and perfect is the man who 
hath (lit, u upon whom there are") the fear and awe of 
the Lord Almighty, and who desireth exceedingly to 
fulfil the commands and teachings of God, as is stated 
in the Canon of the Old and New Testament, by this 

Multitudes there were of patriarchs and prophets 
and apostles and disciples of the Lord in the Old and 
New Testaments, to give testimony to this truth, who 
were truly blessed, faithful, perfect, and persevering in 
their desire and ardent longing to fulfil the Divine 
commands and teachings, and in the holy fear of the 
Lord, perfectly in their hearts and minds, without 
consideration of aught else save this alone. 

One of that class under the New Testament was he 
whose festival and commemoration occurs at this time 
and season, the 17th of Calends of June (May 16th), 
namely, (1)* Brendan, son of Finnlug, of the race of 
Ciar, son of Fergus. A chief leader in faith and piety 
throughout most of the world was this holy Brendan ; 
just was he, like unto Abraham ; a prophetic psalmist, 
like unto David, the son of Jesse ; an eminent sage, 

* These numbers refer to the Notes appended to this life* 

6 Brendaniana. 

Mhoysi Mac Amhra. Tintodhach tidhnactech amail 
Cirine faidh. Intliuchtach amhra amail Aguistin. 
Morleighnidh primhcoitcheann amail Origin. Ogb 
amail Eoin bruinnedalta in Coimdhed. Soiscelaigthe 
amail Matha. Foircetlaid amail PoL [Primapstal 
dilguda amail Petar n-ardespaL Cend] ditreabhuch 
amail Eoin baitsi. Trachtaire amail Grigoir Roma. 
Techtaire treabaireac mara 7 tire amail Noei mac 
Laimech. Uair amail rothocaibh Noei in n-airc uas 
tonnghor na dilenn ind airdi, as amail sin toicebus 
Brenainn a mhanca 7 a mbuintera a n-airdi uas teinid 
bhratha, cuna riade na ceo na crithir iat tre cumhach- 
taibh 7 caencrabud Brenainn meic Finnlogha. 

A n-aimsir immorro JEngusa meic Nat-fraeich righ 
Mnman, is ann rogenair inti noem-Brenain. Do 
Chiarraigi Luacra dho, .i. do Alltraigi Caille do shainred. 
B6 fer saer socheneoil craibbdech irisecb a atbair in 
meic-sin, .i. Finnlogh. Is amhlaid batur in lanambain 
sin, i smact 7 i coibligi dligbtbigb fo riagail Espuic 
Eire. Atconnaic mathair Brenainn aislingi resiu roge- 
nair Brenainp .i. Ian a bocbta dh'or glan do bbeitb 
aice 7 a cicbe do taitnemb amail t-snecbta. Iar n-indisi 
na baislingi d'espoc Eire adubairt gu n-geinfetb uaithi 
gein cbumbacbtacb bhudh Ian do ratb in Spirta Noibh 
•i Brenainn. 

Arailli fer Saidbbbir bai i n-aitreibb cofada o taigh 
Finnlogha, Airdi mac Fidhaig a ainm. Tainic primh- 
fhaidh na h-Eirenn intansin co techAirrdhe meic Fidhaig 

Irish Life of Brendan. 7 

like unto Solomon, son of David ; a law giver, like unto 
Moyses, son of Amram ; an inspired interpreter, like 
unto Saint Jerome ; of surpassing intellect, like unto 
Augustine ; of excellent general scholarship, like unto 
Origen; a virgin was he, like unto John, the bosom 
foster-child of the Lord ; an evangelist, like Mathew ; 
a preacher, like unto Paul ; a chief missioner of forgive- 
ness, like unto Peter, prince of the apostles ; chief of 
hermits, like unto John of the Baptism ; a commentator, 
like Gregory of Eome ; a prudent guide over land and 
sea, like Noah, son of Lamech. And as Noah raised 
aloft his ark over the swelling waves of the Deluge, so 
will Brendan raise up his monks and his people above 
the fires of the Judgment, so that, through the power 
and true piety of Brendan, son of Finlugh, neither 
smoke, nor mists, nor sparks should touch thejn. 

It was in the time of iEnguis, (2) son of Nathfraech, 
King of Munster, that this great St. Brendan was 
born ; of Kerry-Luachra was he, within the district of 
Alltraighe-Cuile. His father, Finnlugh was a freeman, of 
noble birth, devout and righteous, who, with his lawful 
wife, lived in obedience and religious discipline under the 
rule of Bishop Ere. The mother of Brendan, (3) before 
he was born, saw in a vision, her bosom full of pure gold, 
and her breasts glistening like the snow. When she told 
her vision to (4) Bishop Ere, he said : " There shall be 
born of thee a child of power, who will be full of the 
grace of the Holy Ghost," that is, Brendan. 

There dwelt at some distance from the house of 
Finnlugh, a certain rich man, whose name was 
(5) Airde, son of Fidach. At this time ther^jaxfcfc to 

8 Brendaniana. 

•i. Beg Mac De. Kofiafraigh Airrdhe do Bee : " Cid ni is 
nesa dun innosa"? Adubhairt Bee : " Geinfidh do ri dilis 
dingbhala fein eadrat 7 muir inocht, 7 bidh sochaidhi do 
righaibh 7 do ruirechaibh aidheorus he, 7 berus leis 
docum nime " Isin adhaigh-sin gene Brenainn rucsat 
tricha bo tricha laegh ajf Airrdhe Mac Fidhaig. Iarsin 
roeirig [comoch ar na barachl Airdhi, 7 boi oc iarrad in 
toighi a rucad in mac beag, 7 fuair tech Finnlogha, 7 in 
naidtieu ann, 7 roshlecht coduthrachtach'nafhiadhnusi, 
7 ros-edbair in tricha loilgech cona lseghaibh dho, 7 ba si 
sin cedalmsa Brenainn. Rogabh iarsin an brugaid in 
mac ana laim, 7 adubairt : " Bidh dalta damsain macso 
tre bithu na bethad," ol se. 

A n-adaig immorro ghene Brenainn adconnaic espoc 
Eire Alltraigi-cailli fo eenlasair dermhair amail na aices 
riamh roime, 7 timtirecht examuil na n-aingiul i 
n-edaighibh glegheala imon tir immacuairt. Eirghius 
espoc Eire gu moch aramharach, 7 tainic gu tech 
Finnlogha, 7 roghabh in mac ina laim 7 adubairt fris : 
" A dhuine Dhe .i. duine fhoigenus do Dhia, gabh misi 
cucat apaail mhanach ndilius ; et cidh sochaidi is forbh- 
iheelid friat ghein asforbh&ilidmucridi-si 7mh , ainim, ,, 
ol espoc Eire. Iarsin roshlecht 'na fhiadhnusi 7 rochi 
codermhair i comurtha ihaeilti, 7 ron-baist iarsin 7 

Irish Life of Brendan. 9 

his mansion a chief prophet of Erin, whose name 
was (6) Becc MacDe; Airde inquired of Becc, " What, 
unknown event was soon to happen there ;" and Becc 
answered : " There will be born this night, between 
you and the sea, your true and worthy king, whom 
many kings and princes will devoutly honour, whom 
he will bear with him to heaven." On this night 
of Brendan's birth, thirty cows belonging to Airde 
MacFidaigh gave birth to thirty heifer calves. Next 
day Airde rose early, and went in quest of the house 
where the child was born, and found the dwelling of 
Finnlugh, and the young babe there; he eagerly knelt 
before the child, and presented to him the thirty newly- 
calved cows with their thirty calves. This was the 
first alms-offering made to Brendan. Then this great 
land-holder took the child in his arms, and said: 
" Let this child be my foster-son henceforth and for 

Now on the night that Brendan was born, Bishop Ere 
saw Alltraighe-Cuile in an extraordinary blaze of light, 
such as he never saw before, and various ministering 
of angels in snow-white robes through the district all 
around. In the morning he rose early, and proceeded 
to the house of Finnlugh ; taking the child in his arms, 
he addressed him thus : " Oh, man of God " (that is, 
man who will serve God), " receive me as thy faithful 
votary, and many will greatly rejoice at thy birth, as 
my heart and soul now greatly rejoice thereat ;" thus 
spoke Bishop Ere. Then he prostrated himself in his 
presence, and wept copiously through joy; he soon 
after baptized him, and the name, Mobbi,^^ ^s^cl 

10 Brmdawiana. 

tugad Mobhi fair mar amm artus oa thustidhil 

dixit poeta : — 

Mobhi a ainm-sium artus 
(Hhustidhib, oaomh a rus ; 
Macaom slnaghach, sirtech, seng, 
Ba cobair d'feraib Erenn.] 

Iarsin rofherastar broen find .i. ciabhor fhin 
rolin in fhianann uili. As de sin Broenfinn a 
sium. Finn immorro doradh fris, ar ba find b cl 
o anmain, [ut dixit : — 

Braonfind a ainm-sium iarsin 
O curp ocus o anmain 
On braon sin fuair slain 
O epsoop Eire a aon raw.] 

Is ann sin roscennset tri muilt corcra asin topi 
baistigi Brenainn [ut : — 

Tri muilt corcra, suairc in tred, 
Fiacha baisfcigh Brenainn beg, 
Eosgeinset, ba caom an cor 
Asin topur an aonor.] 

Bucsat a mhuinter leo he cu mboi bliadhan occa 
[ica altrum. I cind bliadne iarsin] rue espoc Eii 
he aramus a mhuime fiein, .i. Ita, 7 bai coic bliad 
Itta, 7 tuc in chaillech gradh ndermair do, air 
timterecht na n-aingel huasa 7 rath in Spirtu Noi 
cofollus, 7 do bhith Brenainn oc sirghaire frisin < 
cech tan atcidh hi. Araili la rofhiarfaig Ita 
"Cidh dogni faeilti dhuit, a naeidhi noebh? ,, 
u Tusa," ol se, " atcim oc labra frim choidhchi 7 

Irish Life of Brendan. 11 

to him at first from his parents' wish, as the poet 
said : — 

Mobhi his name at first 
Given by his parents ; fair his face, 
A youth hostful, searchfull, lithe, 
He was a help to the men of Erin. 

Afterwards a white drop {broen Jinn), that is, a white 
mist, fell there, which spread overall Fenit (7). Hence 
his name Broenfinn, find, " white," was truly said of 
him, for white he was in body and soul, as the poet 
said : — 

Broenfind. his name after that, 

In body and in soul, 

From that mist he found the whole ; 

From Bishop Ere one part of it. 

It was then that there leaped forth out of the (8) 
fountain (of his baptism) three purple or dark-red 
wethers, the fee for Brendan's baptism as was said : — 

Three purple wethers, pleasant the flock ; 
Baptismal fees for young Brendan ; 
Sprang — a handsome treat, 
Out of the well alone. 

His family then took him with them, that he may 
remain at nurse for one year ; after which Bishop Ere 
took him away to his foster-mother (9), St. Ita, and he 
remained five years with Ita ; and the nun gave him 
exceeding love, for she saw the ministering of the angels 
about him, and the grace of the Holy Ghost manifestly 
upon him, and Brendan was always joyfully crying 
aloud to the nun whenever he saw her. One day Ita 
asked him : " What is it that causes thee so much joy, 
my holy child ? " said she. " Thou," said he, " whom I 
see speaking to me continually, tt&(L T&asrj ^to^ba 

12 Brendaniana. 

imdha [diairmithi] ele amail tusa, 7 siat acura com- 
haltram as cech laimh diach61e." Aingil immorro batar 
ann sin i ndealbhuibh na n-ogh : — 

[Aingil i ndealbhaibh ogh find 
tfadar ic altram Brenainn, 
As oeoh laim inacheile 
Don naoidhin cin mormheile.] 

Iarsin rolegh oc espoc Eire a Shalma cogressach [i cinn. 
a. mbliadne], 7 ba fada la Ita beith 'na ecmais. Ni 
rabha immorro bo blicht oc espuc Eire, air ni gabhudh 
almsana acht becan o dhainibh riaghalda. Boboi- 
siumh tra i n-araile la oc iarrad bainne'for a aidi. 
•' Is tualaing Dia on, a mhic," ar espoc Eire. Is iarsin 
ticedh ind agh allaid cech lai do Shleibh Luachra cona 
lcegh le, co mblighthe dosum hi, 7 teighedh ahoenar 
isin sliab iarna bleagain. 

Is annsin boi Brig inna farrad-sum .i. derbhshiur 
dho, 7 ba dermhair med a grada lais, ar ba folios do 
timtirecht na n-aingel fuirre, 7 rofhegadh gnuis a aidi 
amail ruithen n-grene samhrata. 

Araili la dochuaidh espoc Eire do proicept. Luid- 
seom lais isin carput, 7 ba haesach deich mbliadne 
Brenainn intansin. Facabar-somh a senar isin char- 
putiar ndul don clerech don proicept. Suidhius Brenainn 
isin carput 7 se oc gabail a shalm a senar. Is ann sin 
doriacht ingen min macachta mongbhuidhe, do cenel 
rigda, gusan carput cuici-siumh, 7 sillis fair, 7 feghaidh 
a ghniiis aluin edrocht, 7 fuabrais leim chuice isin carpat 
fochedoir 7 a cluiche do denamh ris. Is ann aspert- 
som fria : " Imthigh dod tigh 7 beir mhiscaidh cidh 

Irish Life of Brendan. 13 

(without number) like you, and they are fondly nursing 
me from one to another;" angels were there in the 
guise of the virgins : — 


Angels in the guise of fair virgins, 
Were fostering Brendan, 
From one hand to another 
Without much hurt to the babe. 

Afterwards, for five years, he read the psalms constantly 
under Bishop Ere, and Ita grieved much at his absence. 
Now, Bishop Ere had not a milch-cow, for he received 
but moderate alms-offerings from the faithful. On a 
certain day, therefore, he wanted milk for his foster- 
child, and he said : " God is able to provide it, my son." 
After this a (10) wild cow came every day with its calf 
from Slieve-luachra, to be milked for him, and returned 
alone to the mountains, after being milked. 

At this time there lived with him Brig (11), who was 
an own sister of bis, and great was his affection for 
her, for the service of the angels about her was visible 
to him, and he saw the countenance of his foster-father 
shining with the radiance of a summer sun. 

One day Bishop Ere proceeded on a mission of 
preaching the Word of God, taking Brendan with him 
in the carriage, who was then ten years of age. While 
the clergy were engaged at their preaching, Brendan 
was left alone in the carriage, where he sat reading the 
psalms. Then a young maiden, gentle, modest, flaxen- 
haired, of a princely family, drew nigh to the carriage 
close to him, and she looked at him, and saw his face so 
beautiful and bright ; all at once she makes a sportive 
bound into the carriage, % in order to $\»^ \i«t ^&&&^&&. 

14 Brendaniana. 

dod-fucc ille," 7 geibhidh-sium ialla in carpait, 7 gab- 
haidh fora sraeigliled cucruaidh cu raibhi ic cai 7 occ 
diucairi, cu riacht gu hairm a raibe a mathair 7 a 
h'athair, .i. in ri 7 in rigon. Impoidius iarsin espoc 
Eire, 7 gabuidh ica cairiughudh-sum cuger im bualad 
na noighi neimelnidhi. " Dogen-sa aitrighi inn," ar 
Brenainn, " 7 abair-si hi." " Tair isin uamaidh-sea co 
maduin," ar espoc Eire, " 7 bi at aenar innti cu torus- 
sa cugut imarach." Suidhis Brenainn isin uamaidh 
iarum, 7 gabhais a shalma 7 a immna molta don 
Coimdhid innti. . Oirisidh espoc Eire i bhfarrad 
na huamadh ic eistecht ra Brenainn- cen fhis do. 
Atclos tra foghur gotha Brenainn ag gabdil a shalm 
mile ceimeann for cech leth. Do cluinti foghur gotha 
Coluim-cille in comhfhad cetna intan robhith ic cantain 
a shalm 7 a immunn : — . 

[Foghar gotha Brenainn bhinn 
Isin uama 'con fhiannaind 
Mile ceimend in cech dinn 
Atcluintea a ardguth alainn.] 

Is ann sin adconnuic in clerech buidhne aingel suas 
cu nemh 7 anuas co talmain immon uamhaid co maduin. 
Osin imach immorro nir'chumhaing nech gnuis 
Brenainn d'faiscin ar imad na ruithned ndiadha, act 
Finan Cam a senar, air ba Ian do rath in Spirta Noib 

Araile la batar oc imthecht foran sligid .i. Brenainn 
7 espoc Eire. Do rala oenoclach ina cuidechta 


Irish Life of Brendan. 15 

him. Then he said to her : (12) " Go away home, and 
have ill will (or blame) to whoever left you here," and 
he seizes the reins of the carriage, and gives her with 
them a severe flogging, until she was crying and 
bawling, and ran away to the place where the king and 
queen, her parents, were biding. Soon after Bishop 
Ere returned, and gave him a severe rebuke for beating 
the guileless maiden. " I will do penance for it," said 
Brendan, " and do you pronounce what it shall be." 
" Go into that (13) cave there until morning," said 
Bishop Ere, " and remain there alone until I visit you 
to-morrow/ ' Then Brendan sat down in the cave, and 
therein he began his psalms and his hymns of praise 
to the Lord. Bishop Ere watched beside the cave, 
listening to Brendan, without his knowing it. Now, 
the sound of Brendan's voice, chanting the psalms, was 
heard a thousand paces on every side. The sound of 
the voice of Colombcille was heard to the same distance 
when he was chanting his psalms and hymns : 

The sound of the voice of melodious Brendan, 

In the cave near Fenit, 

A thousand paces on every height 

His high fine voice was heard. 

It was then that the clergy saw troops of angels up 
to heaven and down to earth; around the cave until 
morning. Thenceforth no one could fixedly gaze upon 
Brendan's countenance, because of the abundance of 
its divine radiance, save only (14) Finan Cam, who was 
himself full of the grace of the Holy Ghost. 

On a certain day, Brendan and Bishop Ere were on 
a journey, when a young man joined their company* on 

16 Brendamana. 

foran sligid. Teacmhuidh didiu namhait batur aigi 
dh6 .i. moirsheser laech, 7 gabhais eda mhor in 
t'oclach, 7 adubairt : " Muirbbfit sud mhisi innosa." 
"Eirg becan ar scath in chairthi cloichi ucut," ar 
Brenainn, " 7 sin ara scath tu." Doghnisium tra 
amlaid sin, 7 tocbhuidh Brenainn a lama fria Dia, 7 
dogbni ernaigbtbi, co rosoeirtea in t'-oclach i rict coirthi 
cloichi. Teacait iarum a namhait-sium cosin coirthi, 7 
benuid a ceDn de ina richt-som, 7 gonait in coirthi 'na 
thoebh, 7 faccbhait in cloch 'arna dicennad, 7 berait in 
cenn leo a rict cinn a namhat. Et maraidh beos in 
cloch sin isin luc cetna [amail aderid na h'eolaig]. 
Conudh ann sin doroine Brenainn cloich don duine 7 
duine don cfoich. " Denaidh aithrigi," ar espoc Eire, 
" uair ceann na cloiche fil occuibh, 7 ro imthig bar 
namhat imshlan uaibh." Dogniat iarum aithrigi ndicra 
fo riaguil espuic Eire osin immach. 

Iar bfogluim immorro canone petarlaice 7 nuifiad- 
naisse do Brenainn, dob ail do riagla noem n-Eirenn do 
scribadh 7 d'fogluim. Cedaighis tra espoc Eire dosum 
dul d'fogluim na riagla-sin, &i rofhitir gurup o Dhia 
robui dosomh in comairli-sin. Et adubairt espoc Eire 
£cis : " Tar doridhisi cucamsa, 7 na riagla-sin leat, cu 
roghabha tu gradha uaimsi." Iar ndul dosom d'agal- 
luim a muime .i. Ita, is ed adubuirt in cedna fris, .i. 
riagla nsBmh n-Eirenn d'fogluim, 7 adubhairt ris : 
' Na dena foghluim ag mnaibh na oc oguibh, cu nach 
derntar h'egnach. Imthigh/' ar si, " 7 teicemhaid tech 

Irish Life of Brendan. 17 

the way. There chanced to meet him some enemies 
he had, seven fighting men, and a great fear seized him, 
and he said : " These men will murder me now." " Go 
on a little," said Brendan, " in the shadow of that 
pillar-stone there, and lie down in its shadow." So he 
acted in this manner, and Brendan raises his hands to 
God, and prayed that the young man may be saved in 
the appearance of the pillar-stone. Then his enemies 
come to the pillar-stone, and they cut off its head in 
shape of his, and they wounded the pillar-stone in 
the side, and leave the stone beheaded, and carry the 
head with them in the shape of the head of their 
enemy. And still that (15 stone remains in the 
same place, as intelligent people tell us. Thus Brendan 
made there a stone of the man, and a man of the stone. 
" Do penance," said Bishop Ere to them, " for the 
head of the stone that you have, and that your enemy 
passed away from you safe and sound. They afterwards 
did condign penance under the guidance of Bishop Ere 

After Brendan had learned the Canonical Scriptures 
of the Old Testament and the New, he desired to write 
down and to learn the rules of the Saints of Erin. 
Bishop Ere then granted permission that he should go 
to learn those rules, for he knew well that such counsel 
came to him from God. And Bishop Ere said to him : 
41 Come back again to me when you have got those rules, 
in order that you may receive (16) Holy Orders from 
me." When Brendan went to take counsel with his 
foster-mother Ita, she said the same to him : " Learn the 
rules of the Saints of Erin ; " and she said also : " Do 

18 Brendaniana. 

suaichnidh sochenelach dhuit ar an sligid." Ecmaing, 
dano, ba h6 Mac Lenin in tech-sin. Iar n-imthecht 
immorro do Brenainn dorala Mac Lenin do. Is arm 
doraidh Brenainn fris : " Dena aithrigi, ar it£ Dia ocut 
toghairm, 7 ba at macdilius do o sonn amach." Is 
ann sin rosoei Colman Mac Lenin cusan Coimdhi, 7 
cumhduighter eclas lais focedair : ut dixit Colman : — 

Brenainn breo betha buadhaig. 
Beim in aal airimh aenoigh 
Siar cu hairhbire in senuigh 
Thiro tairngire t®bhuigh. 

Iarsin rosiact Brenainn crich Connacht fo clu arailli 

fir craibdhigh bai ann .i. Iarlaithe mac Logha, meic 

Trena, meic Feic, meic Macta, meic Bresail, meic 

Sirachta, meic Fiachach Finn. Et ros-foglaim-sium .i. 

Brenainn/ na huili riagla naom Eirenncha aicisein. 

Et asbert fria Iarlaithi : " Ni hann so bias h'eisekgi 

etir," ar se. " A meic noeib," ar Iarlaithi, " cid nma 

bhfolcai forainn ratha diadhai in Spirta Noibh filet innat 

cofollus 7 cumachta diarmhidi in Choimdhed cumachtaigh 

fil guhincleithe it menmain neimellnidi? Tusa tra 

doriacht cucamsa do fhoghlaim occum" ol Iarlaithi. 

" Misi immorro bias ogutsa osonn amach, acht geibh misi 

it mhanchaine tria bithu na bethad. Act cena,'~ ar 

Iarlaithi, • ' abuir frim c'ait i mbia mo eiseirghi ?" Atbert 

Brenainn fris : " Dentur carput nua leat," ar se, " ar 

is senoir thu, 7 eirg inn foran sligid. Ocas cipe inadh 

i mebsat d& fhertais an carpait, is ann bias h'esseirghi 

7 eiseirghe shochuidhi immaile frit." Iarsin tra teit in 

Irish Life of Brendan. 19 

not take this learning from women or virgins, lest you 
give occasion for reproach." " Go," said she, " and 
there will meet you on the way a charming nobly- 
born soldier ; " and it happened that Mac Lenin was 
that warrior. After Brendan had proceeded on his 
travels, Mac Lenin met him. Then said Brendan to 
him : " Do penance, for God is calling .upon thee, and 
be unto Him a dutiful son henceforth." Then was (17) 
Colman Mac Lenin converted to the Lord, and there 
was built for him a church very soon afterwards, as 
Colman said : 

(18) Brendan flame of the victorious life. 

Afterwards Brendan entered the country of Con- 
naught, because of the fame of a certain devout man 
who dwelt there named (19) Iarlath, son of Lug, son of 
Tren, son of Fiach, son of Imcadha (or Mochta), son of 
Bresal, son of Siract, son of Fiacha-finn ; and Brendan 
learned from him all the rules of the saint's of Erin. 
Then said Brendan to Iarlath : " Not here will be the 
place of thy resurrection." "My holy son," said 
Iarlath, " why do you conceal from us the divine graces 
of the Holy Spirit that are manifestly in you, and the 
countless powers of the Lord Almighty that lie secretly 
in thy spotless soul? You now come to learn from 
me," said Iarlath, "but it is I that will be yours 
henceforward, only take me as thy faithful votary for 
evermore ; but tell me now where will be the place of 
my resurrection." Then Brendan said to him : " Let 
a new carriage be made for you as you are a bishop (or 
a senior), and you will travel in it ou ym\wxr&»v 

20 Brendaniana. 

Seanoir i&dn carput, 7 ni cian rainic intan romebsat da 
fhertais in carpait ; 7 as e ainm an inaidh-sin, Tuaim 
da Ghualann. Is ann sin doronsat a n-dis in laidh-sea 
eturra, ic feghndh na reilgi uathaibh, 7 timtirecht na 
n-aingel co-follus di ; 7 asbert Brenainn na .u. cetrainn 
di 7 asbert Iarlaithi iarsin : — 


Ard reileac na n-aingel n-an 
Atcim tar mo shuil 
Ni tadhbhaister ithfern uar 
Anas tardtar ana h'uir. 

Gomad oin iar tairceall cros 
Doro in fotan glas 
Niba h'aitreabn dheaman ndur 
Taithfentar dhun ass. 

Bidh airdceall cun-imut cliar 
I m-biat senadh mor 
Bidh lighi tren acus traagh 
Bidh sligi do shlog. 


Diultfait do manaig do cill, 
Bid beir tabair treall, 
Olc in oomba ros-bia inn 
Tadhall ithfrinn tall. 

Ticfat do braithre biaidh uair 
Doroichset do chein, 
Bidh tnsa bhus fuighleoir dhoibh 
Do genat do reir. 


Irish Life of Brendan. 21 

And at whatsoever place the two shafts of the carriage 
will break, there will be your resurrection, and the 
resurrection of a multitude along with thee." Soon 
after the bishop travelled in the carriage, and he had 
not proceeded far when the two shafts thereof broke, 
and the name of that place is Tuaim-da-ghualann. 
Thereupon the twain composed thi^ poem between 
them, as they looked towards the burial-place from 
some distance, while the ministering of the angels 
about it was quite visible to them ; Brendan spoke the 
first five verses of it, and Iarlath spoke the rest : — (20) 

Noble churchyard with angels radiant, 

Bright is its splendour before my eyes ; 

Hell's torments shall not be endured ^ //tut^j^ 

By those who are interred in its clay, 

'Twas the archangel who marked it around with crosses, 

And consecrated its green sod ; 

It is not the abode of the hideous demon 

That shall be shown to us therein, 

It shall be a noble church, with numerous clergy, 

There great synods will be held ; 

It will be a refuge for great and lowly, 

There will be place for multitudes. 


Should your faithful forsake your church, 
Their time will be a time of tribulation ; 
Evil the ruin that comes therefrom here, 
The dooming to hell beyond (hereafter). 


When in future time your brethren shall come 
Summoned to the judgment-seat, 
It is you that will be their advocate, 
If they follow your guidance now. 

22 Brmdaniana. 


In airet donet mn riar 
Mairet in da clar 
Cuirfit a naimdhi i cein, 
Lasfait amail grein. 

In airet donet mn reir 
Bndh fir dhamh an rann 
Betit a maie taraneis, 
Ni biat i pian tall. 

Mogenar thoghfas in clar 
Ard na n-iubnr n-ur, 
Ni ba hitfernach iar mbrath 
Neach rosia 'na hair. 


Ni bndh bairnech a mheic Dhuach 
Bot-fia limsa a luach, 
Neam ocus tnile cen tlath, 
Mo chuile cen crich. 

Buaidh righ is cleirech dod shil 
I cein bed dom reir ; 
Nocha cirrfa nech do giall 
Gindf et tar gach reir. 

Iar bfacbail Iarluithe annsin do Brenainn gabais 
roime foramus ^Ihuighi h'Ai. Dorala immorro aingel 
d6 for an sligid, 7 is ed asbert fris : " Scribh," ar se, 
"briatra in crabhaid uaimsi." Scribhais Brenainn 
annsin oconn aingel md nili riagail n-eclusdai noemhda, 
7 maraid bheous in riagol sin. Intan immorro batar 
oc imthecht in muighi conaicet in fuat, 7 duini marbh 
fair, 7 a charait ic4 chainuidh. " Tairisnigid isin 

Irish Life of Brendan. 23 


As long as they live obedient to me, 
And while the cross remains, 
They will banish their enemies afar ; 
They will shine like the sun. 

As long as they live obedient to me — 
I speak the truth, it is no falsehood — 
Their sons shall survive them ; 
They will not suffer pain hereafter. 


Happy he who takes the cross 

On the hill of evergreen yews. 

He will not be hell-doomed after judgment, 

Whosoever shall lie in its clay. 


Be not angry, MacDuach ! 
I will give you its full price : 
Heaven and abundance without stint, 
And my berth* without end. 


Kings and clerics of thy seed will triumph 
As long as they are obedient to me, 
No man shall claim their hostages : 
They will overcome every assailant. 

When Brendan had left Iarlath he proceeded on his 
way towards the plain of Ai. There met him on the 
road an angel, who thus addressed him : " Write down 
from me the rules of the religious life (lit., the words of 
piety) ." Thereupon Brendan wrote down from the 
angel all the holy ecclesiastical rules, and this (21) 
rule is still extant. When they were travelling in this 
plain they see a bier, and the corpse of a man upon it, 
* My " corner," or place in heaven* 

24 Brendaniana. 

Coimdhid," ol Brenainn, "ocus bidh beo in duine fil 
ocuibh." Iar ndenum ernaighthi co Dia do Brenainn 
eirghes in t-oclaech acedoir, 7 berait a muinter leo he 
co bhfaeilti ndermhair. Iarsin tra geibhidh each ica 
fhegad-somh cumor, 7 berait leo he cu righ in mhuighi. 
Et tairgidh in ri feraim d6 in bhaile in budh ail do isin 
maigh-sin, 7 nir' ghabh nadha, &r nir'b ail leis beith 
isin magh-soin. 

Iar scribeann tra riaghla ind aingil 7 riaghla noemh 
n-Eirenn cona mbeasaibh 7 cona crabud do Brenainn, 
impais co h'espoc Eire 7 gabais gradha uaidh. Is ann 
atcualaidh-siumh isin tsoscela : Qui reliquit pattern aut 
matrem aut sororem aut agross, centuplum in procenti 
accipiet et vitam eternam possidebit. Is iarsin tra 
rofh&s gradh in Coimdhed codermhair inacridhi-siumh, 
7 ba h'ail do a thir 7 a talam 7 a thustidhi 7 a athardha 
dh'facbail, 7 rothothlaigh coduthrachtach ar an Coim- 
dhid cu tarda thalmain nderrit ndiamhair n-inill 
n-aluind n-etarscartha dhd o dhainib. Iar codlad im- 
morro dosum in adaigh-sin cu cuala guth in aingil do 
nimh 7 atbert fris : " Eirigh, a Brenainn," ar se, 
" 7 dorad Dia duit inni rocuinghis .i. tir tairngire." 
Eirghis Brenainn iarum, 7 ba maith lais a menma on 
aitheasc-sin, 7 teit a aenar i Sliabh n-Daidche, 7 feghais 
ind aicen ndermair ndosholachta uadh forcechleth, 7 is 
ann sin atconnuic-sium an innsi n-aluind n-airegda co 
timtirecht na n-aingel di. Iarsin tra anaidh-siumh 
tredhenus annsin, 7 codlais doridhisi. Tic aingel in 
Coimdhed dia acallaim annsin, 7 atbert frig *. " Biatsa," 

Irish Life of Brendan. 25 

and his friends lamenting him. " Put your trust in 
the Lord," said Brendan, " and the dead man you have 
will be restored to life." After Brendan had prayed to 
God, the young man arose at once to life, and his family 
take him away with exceeding joy. After this all the 
people begin to gaze upon him very much, and they 
take him before the king of the plain. . And the king 
offered him land in whatever district he chose in the 
plain, but Brendan accepted it not, for he did ndt wish 
to abide there. 

When Brendan had written down the rule of the 
angel, and the rules of the saints of Erin, with their 
customs and devotional practices, fie returned to Bishop 
Ere, and received ordination from him. It was then 
he heard in the Gospel: "Everyone who hath left/ 
father, or mother, or sister, or lands, shall receive an 
hundred-fold in this present time, and shall possess 
life everlasting." (St. Matt. c. xix., v. 29.) 'Thenceforth 
the love of the Lord grew exceedingly in his heart, 
and he (22) desired to leave his country and land, and 
parents and family, and he earnestly besought the Lord 
to grant him some place, secret, retired, secure, delightful, / 
far apart from men. "While he slept that night he heard 
the voice of the angel from heaven, saying to him : "Arise, 
Brendan, for God will grant to thee what thou hast 
prayed for — even the Land of Promise." J Then Brendan 
arose, and much was his • heart gladdened by these 
words, and he retired alone to (23) SliabJt-Daidche (Bran- 
don-hill), whence he gazed upon the vast and gloomy 
ocean on every side, and then he had a vision of the 
beautiful noble island, with the mmfctefirk% <& *s&^^ 


26 Brendaniana. 

ar se, " o sunn imach maroen firiut tria bhithu na betha, 
7 muinfetsa doit an innsi n-41ainn atconnarcais 7 is 
mian leat d , &ghbail. ,, Ciis Brenainn annsin coderm- 
hair ara fdseiltighi leis aitheasc in aingil fids, 7 doghni 
atlaigthi buidi do Dia. 

Eirghes iarsin Brenainn asin tsleibh, 7 tic co a 
muinter, 7 atbert friu : " Dentar tri longa mora libh," 
ar se, " 7 tri sretha do r&mhadhuibh for cech luing, 
7 tri seola do croicnibh, 7 tricha ler an each luing, acht 
nir bhat cleirig uile \ut dixit poeta : — 

Tri longa seolais in saoi * ' 

Tar tonngar mara romaoi 
Tricha fer in cech luing lais 
Tar treathan mara mongmais. 

Tri sretha do ramaib leo 
Ar gach luing dib, caom an gleo, 
Seol croicenn go loinne (o) lais 
Isna tri longaib seolais. 

Nochu cleirchiu luid uile 
For loinges, caom in chaire, 
Munter huathad (?), lorn a li 
Isna tri longaib seolais.] 

Seolais tra Brenainn Mac Finnlogha annsin for 
tonnghor in mara mongruaidh 7 for treathan na tonn 
toebhuaine 7 for beluibh ind aicein ingantaigh adhua- 
thmhair agairbh, airm a bfacatar ilar na mbiast 
mbeilderg (co n-imad na mbleidmil mor) muiridhi ; 
7 fogeibhdis ailena aille ingantacha 7 ni tairistis inntibh 
(sin) beos. 

Irish Life of Brendan. . 27 

thereon. After this he remained there for the space of 

three days, and again fell asleep. Then the angel of 

the Lord came to commune with him there, and spoke 

to him thus : " I will," said he, " be henceforth in close 

union with you for ever and ever, and I will teach you 

how to find the beautiful island of which you have 

had a vision, and which you desire to attain." Brendan 

thereupon wept exceedingly with joy at the words of 

the angel, and made fervent thanksgiving to God. 

Then Brendan went away from the mountain, and 

comes to his community of monks, to whom he says : 

" Let there be constructed by you three large vessels, 

having three banks of oars in each, and three sails of 

hides, and (24) twenty men in each vessel." But they 

were not all clerics, as the poet said : — 

Three vessels the sage sailed 
Over the foaming surges of the ocean ; 
Twenty men in each vessel he had 
On the waves of the boisterous sea. 

'Three sets of oars in each vessel, 
Sweet the music of their rowing ; 
Three sails of hides to be unfurled 
In each of the three vessels he sails. 

(25) AH were not clerics who went 

On the voyage ; sweet their mutual love ; 
The monks were humble — spare their looks — 
Who sailed in the three vessels. 

^^Then Brendan, son of Finlugh, sailed over the loud- 
voiced waves of the rough-crested sea, and over the 
billows of the greenish tide, and over the abysses of the 
wonderful, terrible, relentless ocean, where they saw in 
its depths the red-mouthed monsters of the sea and 
many great sea-whales. And they found therein 
beautiful, marvellous islands, wherein foe^j taaxu&Tft&. 

28 Brendaniana. 

Batur tra amlaid sin fria re .u. mbliadan for an aicen 
n-ingantach n-anaithnidh n-aineolach dhoibsium ; et ni 
tharla duine dhoibh frisin re-sin, 7 ni roibhi esbaidh 
dhuini dia popul form, 7 ni rofrithortadh corp na anum 
duini dib; et ba hingnadh inni sin, ar ni roleicc 
Brenainn doibh Ion do breith leo, acht atbert ba tualuing 
Dia biadh doibh in cech dhuimbeitis, amail roshasastar 
na .n. mile dona .a. aranaibh 7 don dha n-iascaib. 

In tan immorro ba comfhocraibh don chaise, batar 
a muinter icca radh fria Brenainn dula for tir do 
cheileabhrafl na case. " As tualang Dia/' ol Brenainn, 
" talam, do thabairt duin in gach inadh bus ail do." 
Iar toidhecht immorro na case toccbhais in mil mor 
muiridi a fhormna a n-airdi uas treathan 7 uas tonn- 
ghor in mara, cur bho talam comtrom cobhsaidh amail 
faichthe choimhreidh chomhaird. Et tiaghait-sium 
forsin talmain-sin 7 ceileabrait in caisc ann .i. oenla 
7 da oidhchi. Iar ndul doibhsium ana longuibh 
sceinneas an bledmil fon muir fochedair. Et ba ham- 
laid sin docileabraitis in chaise co cenn .uii. mbliadne 
for druim in mil moir, amail atbert (Cumin Coindire) : 

Carais Brenainn buanchrabudh 
Doreir shenuid is shamhaidh : 
Secht mbliadne ar drium in mil mhoir 
Ba docair in coir chrabaidh. 

Uair mtan ba comhihocraibh don chaise cacha 
bliadne no thocbhadh in mil mor a druim comba talam 
tirim techtaidhe. 

Irish Life of Brendan. 29 

They were thus for the space of (26) five years upon 
the ocean, so wonderful, so strange, and utterly unknown 
to them; and during all that time no man chanced to 
meet them, and not one of all the crews suffered any 
want, nor did any injury befall either body or soul of 
anyone. And this was a wonder, indeed, for Brendan 
had not allowed them to bring any provisions with 
them, but he told them that God would provide food for 
them, wherever they might be, just as He fed the five 
thousand with the five loaves and two fishes. 

Now when the Easter-tide drew near, the brethren 
were urging Brendan to go on land to celebrate the 
paschal festival there. " God," said Brendan, " can 
provide land for us wheresoever He willeth." When 
Easter had come, the great sea- whale raised up its huge 
bulk over the breakers and noisy billows of the sea, so 
that it was level, firm land, likfe unto a green sward, 
evenly smooth and equally high. And they go forth 
upon that land, and they celebrate thereon the Easter 
festival, even for one day ai*d two nights. And as soon 
as they returned to their vessels the whale at once 
plunged into the sea. In this manner they celebrated 
the festival of Easter to the end of seven years on the 
back of the whale, as (27) Cuimin of Connor tells : — 

Brendan loved lasting devotion, 
According to his synod and his equals. 
Seven years on the back of the whale ; 
Severe was this mode of devotion. 

Because each year, when Easter drew near, the whale 
would raise up its back, so that it was dry solid 

30 Brendcmiana. 

Araili laithe dhoibh for an aicen n-ingantach co 
bhfacadar srotha doimne dubha in mara mongruaidh, 
7 as inntibhsin dorimartus a longa dia mbadhuadh ar 
mhet na hainbthine. Gabhuidh cich iarsin ic fegad 
inagaid Brenainn, £r ba dermhair met in gabhuihd 
ir-rabutur. Tocbus Brenainn a ghuth cuh&rd, 7 atbert : 
" As lor duit, a mhuir mhor-sa," ar se, " mhisi m-oenar 
do badhadh, 7 leicc uaid in lucht-so." Is ann sin tra 
rofhethnuig in mhuir, 7 toirnes fethedha na soebchoire 
focetoir. sin amach iarum ni roerchoitset do neoch 

Irish Life of Brendan. 31 

On certain days, while they traversed the wonderful 
ocean, they beheld the deep and black currents of the. 
rough-crested sea, and in them their vessels were in 
danger of foundering, because of the vehemence of the 
storm. Then each would look intently on the face of 
Brendan, for exceeding great was the peril in which 
they were (28). Brendan raised his voice on high, and 
cried out : " Enough for thee, mighty sea, that thou 
shouldst drown me alone, but suffer this people to 
escape." Then the sea grew calm, and the rushing of 
the whirlpools subsided at once. Thenceforth they 
harmed no one else. ... 


1.— Pbdigbbb op St. Brendan. 

Some copies of. this Life give here the line of 
descent from Ciar (or Mogh Taoth), son of Fergus 
MacBoighe and Maebh, Queen of Connaught, in the 
first century. Duald MacFerbuis, in his Book of 
Genealogies, has it in three different forms. Comparing 
those with* the most reliable pedigrees we have of 
St. Carthage Mochuda and St. Canice of Kilkenny, who 
came of the same stock as St. Brendan, we may set 
down his " stem " as follows: — Brendan, son of Fining, 
son of Fioncadh, son of Olcu, son of Alt (unde 
Altraighe), son of Oghaman, son of Fiochur, son of 
Delmain, son of Eoghan (or End), son of Fualasgec, 
son of Moctha, son of Astomon, son of Mogh-Taoth, 
alias Ciar (unde Ciarriaghe), son of Fergus MacKoL !.o. 
Here we have thirteen generations from Fergus, whose 
" floruit " was. early in the first century, to Brendan, 
born in 483, requiring more than the usual average 
allowed for a generation ; but it is probable that some 
links have been lost. To the pedigree MacFerbuis 
subjoins a note, meaning: " He (Brendan) belonged to 
Kerry-luachra, in the district of Altraighe-cuile-beara 
or Kinbeara, and also to Corca T duibhne (Corcaguiney)." 
A similar note is added to the copies of the pedigree in 

Notes on the Irish Life. * 33 

the Book of Leinster and in the Leabhar Breac. The 
district of Altraighe (" Sept-land of the Ua Alta, or 
descendants of Alt ") lay around the present Tralee, 
extending some miles, east and west ; the portion of 
it called " Cuil-beara " by^ MacFerbuis was the Cuil 
(" corner " or " angle "), as it is called in Irish to the 
present day, extending from the Spa. of Tralee to 
Fenit Island, and including the parish of Ballinahag- 
luishe (hence called in Irish "Paroiste na Cuileac," 
or the Parish of the Corner). This district was also 
known, MacFerbuis says, as Kinbeara ("Heads of 
Beara"), often also called Binbeara ("Points of 
Beara"), which was the name of the parish, in some 
medisBval records. The name " Beara " was probably 
given to the whole district from the curious rocky spurs 
or spits (" beara," or biora, in Irish) which crop up 
through the limestone " measures " there, in so many 
places, and which are specially remarkable in that 
portion of it anciently called Ilaun Bearamhain 
(" Island of the Beara "), now called Barrow, where 
plojjie the name survives. In the copies of the Irish 
Life that I have seen, " the precise place " of Brendan's 
birth is written " Altraighe-caille " (" of the wood "), 
not " Cuile," as given by MacFerbuis, which I believe 
to be the more correct, for the Altraighe " of the Wood " 
lay to the east of Tralee, towards the " great wood/' 
that covered a wide expanse of the "plain of Kerry" 
in that direction in early times. 

2.— Aengus Mac Nadhfbaich 
Was the first Christian King of M\matex,\i^TL%\ttreGL 

34 ' • Brendaniana. 

baptized by St. Patrick before he reached the throne. 
He was killed at the battle of Cill-osnadha (now 
Kelleston), in the present County of Carlow, in 490 — 
about seven years after the birth of St. Brendan. 

3. The mother of the saint is named " Cara " in the 
Latin Lives, preserved in the Burgundian Library, 
Brussels. The holy union of Finnlug and Cara, under 
the rule of Bishop Ere, was very fruitful of saints. 
In a marginal note to MacFerbuis's pedigree we find : 
" Brendan and Domaingin of Tuaim-musgire, and Fait- 
leac of Cluaintuascairt and Faolan of Cill-tulac, were 
four sons of Finnlug." The festival of St. Domaingin 
is marked in the Martyrology of Tallaght on the 
29th of April, but his church of Tuaim-musgire has 
not been identified. I believe I will not be far astray 
in suggesting that it was the church now called 
Kiltuomy, now a parish in the barony of Clanmaurice, 
where the ruins of an ancient church still remain, 
surrounded by a graveyard largely used for burials. 
We read in a very ancient Life of St. Carthage- 
Mochuda, that soon after his priestly ordination by his 
master, St. Carthage Senior, he built a small church at 
Kiltulach (now Kiltallagh, near Castlemain), where he 
wrought many miracles, and was highly honoured by 
those who attended his ministrations ; but though he 
was ordained by St. Carthage, whose episcopal juris- 
diction in Desmond, afterwards the diocese of Aghadoe, 
was limited by the river Maine, on the Kerry side of 
which lay Kiltulach, he was challenged as an intruder 
by two bishops who then ruled episcopal sees within 
the Kerry borders, and who insisted that he should 

Notes on the Irish Life. 35 

withdraw outside the sphere of their episcopal authority. 
Their names are given ]as Domaingen and Dubhlin, 
correctly, Dubhdin. This is a very early instance of 
fixed limits to diocesan jurisdiction in our primeval 
Irish Church. Carthage demurred to the challenge, 
and he appealed to his friend and patron, Moeltuile, 
King of Kerry, " whose castle lay beside the Shannon," 
to protect him from the molestation of those bishops. 
But his friend gave him a prudent advice : " My son, 
retire now; leave this small tract of land to those 
envious bishops, and hereafter it shall be thine, and 
much more, with all its inhabitants for ever." And so 
it came to pass ; for after many years, while St. Carthage 
was still in his great monastery at Eathin, he and 
many of his favourite disciples founded churches within 
the district where those " envious bishops " ruled ; 
namely, at Kilcarragh (Church of St. Carthage), now 
next parish to KiltuoirA r . and at Kilfiachna (Church of 
Fiachna, a disciple of Carthage), now Kilfeighney, next 
parish to Kilmaniheen (Church of Maingen or Do- 
Maingen, the prefix " Do " being the usual expression 
of endearment, like " Mo"), now the parish of Brosna. 
I believe that this Bishop Domaingen, founder of 
Kilmaniheen, was founder also of Kiltuomy, the Church 
of " Tuaim-musgire," and that he was the saintly 
brother of St. Brendan. The Church of Faitleac of 
Cluaintuascairt was in the present County Roscommon. 
He probably had accompanied his brother, St. Brendan, 
in his missionary journeys in Connaught, and took part 
in the foundation of some of his monasteries within that 
province. The monastery of Ctaantoo^etk Vp& SJ&& 

86 BrencUmiana. 

place is now called) may have been one of those founded 
by Brendan, in Eoscommon, for the benefit of his 
countrymen from Kerry, who had migrated in large 
numbers thither, and occupied wide districts there, 
about the date of his later visits to Connaught ; and he 
may have then placed Faitleac to govern it, as may be 
inferred from an entry in MacFerbuis, regarding this 
brother of Brendan's : — " Fergus MacBahilly made 
reverence to him (Faitleac) as successor to Brendan, for 
it was to him Brendan left his monks." 

The Church of " Faolan of Kiltulach " may have 
been that of Kiltallagh, from which Carthage Mochuda 
was forced to withdraw, and which Bishop Domaingen 
may have then given in charge to his brother Faolan ; 
a natural arrangement enough. There is a very ancient 
church within the present parish of Dingle bearing this 
saint's name, Kilfhaolain (pronounced Kilaoilane, or 
Killilane) ; it may have been founded by this brother of 
St. Brendan's before his migration to Kiltallagh. So 
far touching the holy brothers of the saint. The Irish 
Life tells us of the great holiness of his sister, Brig, 
who cared him so lovingly while in the tutelage of 
Bishop Ere. She very probably became a holy nun in 
St. Ita's Convent at Killeedy ; and after many years, 
when her brother, St. Brendan, had founded the 
Convent of Nuns at Eanachduin (Annadown), on the 
east margin of Lough Corrib, he placed his holy sister 
to rule it ; and there he died in the 93rd year of his 
age, while Brig was still living. 

4. Bishop Ere is the earliest bishop of whom we 
have any trace in Kerry history, and the traces of his 

Notes on the Irish Life. 37 

connection with our early Kerry Church are vague and 
shadowy. There is no reasonable doubt, however, that 
this Bishop Ere, the patron of St. Brendan, was St. Ere 
of Slane, " the sweet-spoken Brehon," of St. Patrick, who 
is called in owe Annals, " Bishop of Liolcach " (not iden- 
tified), and who died, according to the Annals of Ulster, 
in 512. He must have assumed episcopal jurisdiction 
in Kerry-luachra some years before the birth of St. 
Brendan ; and from what we read in this Irish Life of 
his relations with that saint, he must have resided 
there almost continuously for several years afterwards. 
It is very probable that he came to Kerry soon after 
the mission of St. Benignus, who was sent by St. 
Patrick, on his visit to Munster about 450, to evangelize 
the tribes of West Munster, and " to unite them to 
Holy Church by the saving waters of baptism," as his 
Life tells us. St. Benignus, who was then a priest, 
brought seven other priests, disciples of «St. Patrick, 
with him, but did not remain long, being called away 
to North Clare and Connaught, where his apostolic 
labours may have been more urgently necessary, and 
where, as we know from his Life, they were continued 
for some years. To complete the work of the 
conversion of the Ciarriaghe, thus auspiciously 
commenced by St. Benignus and his companions, 
and to organize in a solid and permanent man- 
ner the infant Church of Christian converts there, 
St. Patrick sent one of his most zealous and devoted 
bishops, St. Ere — who must have got spiritual charge 
not only of Kerry-luachra, but also of a wide range of 
south-west Limerick, in the heart oi ^Y&cfci \wj *0&r> 

88 Brendaniana. 

Convent of St. Ita, at Killeedy, over which he seems 
"to have had jurisdiction. We have some vestiges yet 
remaining of his apostolic labours in Kerry. In the 
townland of Lerrig, parish of Kilmoyley, there are the 
ruins of a very ancient ecclesiastical establishment of 
some kind, which is known as Termon-Eirc (Church 
Sanctuary of Ere) ; but what it consisted of it is now 
impossible to ascertain, for all that remains are some 
grass-grown mounds of earth and stones, covering about 
half an acre, which are religiously preserved by the 
people from disturbance in any way. When I saw the 
place first, many years ago, I was told by the " oldest 
inhabitant " I met there, that he remembered from his 
boyhood the visit of some great scholars, as he called 
them, to the ruins ; and that they told the people who 
were present on the occasion, that this " Tarmuin was 
one of the first churches called in Borne ;" meaning, 
I suppose, that it was one of the earliest churches 
founded by St. Patrick and his disciples in Ireland ; and 
I have no doubt that it was founded by Bishop Ere, 
the patron of StBrendan — probably his first foundation 
in Kerry — and that for this reason it was specially 
honoured in after times, and became a " Tarmuin/' 
having the high " privilege of sanctuary/' as it was 

There is another very ancient and interesting church 

on the southern slopes of Kerry-Head, within the parish 

of Ballyheigue, called Kilvicadeaghadh (Church of the 

n onof Deaghadh), which, I believe, bears the patro- 

mic of St. Ere of Slane, for his father was 

Deaghadh," as his pedigree shows ; or " Dego," as it 

Notes on the Irish Life. 39 

was latinized by our hagiographers. The. church, at 
present in ruins, though very ancient, cannot date from 
St. Erc's time ; but it was built on the site of some 
foundation of his there, and not far from a " holy well," 
which bears the same name as the church, being " the 
Well of Macadeaghadh." In connection with this well, 
there is most religiously preserved, by the head of a 
family in the neighbourhood, who alone still use the 
old church as their burial-place, a round stone amulet, 
called " the bauly," which is even yet used for the cure 
of " the ills that flesh is heir to," being immersed in 
the water from the holy well, which is then drunk " in 
honour of the saint of the well." I cannot say whether 
this amulet has come down from the days of Bishop 
Ere Macadeaghadh, or whether it may be a relic of his, 
such as " the white pebble which St. Columba blessed, 
by which God will effect the cure of many diseases ; " 
but the preservation of it for many centuries, and the 
still enduring faith of the people in its healing virtues, 
indicate the hoar antiquity of the venerable church, and 
of its religious associations. 

If Bishop Ere had his habitat here on the night of 
Brendan's birth, from which he could easily see the 
district of Altraighe-cuile " in one blaze of light," across 
the waters of what was afterwards callea St. Brendan's 
Bay, how beautifully those lambent splendours, playing 
over the home of the infant Brendan, and "the 
ministering of angels in snow-white robes," must have 
arrested the attention and excited the wonder of the 
holy Bishop, and urged him to proceed " early on the 
morrow " in quest of the house where the "child of so 

40 x Brendamana. 

much heavenly predilection had been born ! St. Ere, 
soon after ordaining St. Brendan to the priesthood, 
must have retired to his hermitage at Slane, " over the 
blue waters of the Boyne," where he died in 512. 

5. — Airdb MacFidaigh. 

The mansion of this "brugaid" (great farmer; in 
which St. Becc was entertained when he prophesied 
the birth of Brendan, stood on the crest of a verdant 
knoll or hillock in the townland of Listrim, adjoining 
the parish of Ardfert, commonly called Cahirard (stone 
fortress on the height), but which, an accurate map 
of the locality, more than three hundred years old, 
shows to be Cahirairde (fortress of Airde). From this 
Fenit lies due west, " between it and the open sea ;' 
according to the prophecy of St. Becc, as given in the 
Book of Leinster : " this night thy king is born between 
thee on the west and the sea." On the top of this 
hillock can be easily traced at present the ring of the 
foundations of the Cathair, which crowned its swelling 
slopes, showing a diameter of more than one hundred 
feet inside the walls, which must have been at least 
seven feet in thickness at the base; but of those walls, 
and of whatever buildings lay within them, not a stone 
remains in situ, all having been drawn away for build- 
ing purposes during many generations. But nothing 
can efface the tokens of early and long occupation of 
the surface all around its site, for its emerald verdure, 
which in early summer makes it conspicuous in the 
'indscape for many miles in all directions, can only be 

Notes on the Irish Life. 41 

accounted for by its uses for man's habitation for long 
centuries. ' 

6. — St. Becc MacDe. 

The Annals of the Four Masters record his death : 
" The age of Christ, 557 ; the nineteenth year of Diarmid ; 
St. Becc, son of De, a celebrated prophet, died." His 
name is on the Calendars of Irish Saints for October the 
12fch, on which his festival was kept. He was son of 
De-Druad, sixth in descent from Mainne, son of Niall of 
the " Nine Hostages." There is no other reference, as 
far as I know, to his visit to Kerry, save what we find in 
the Lives of Brendan; but we may well believe that 
many of the early saints, such as he, came to Kerry, 
after St. Benignus, to visit the Christian converts there, 
and to promote the spread of faith and piety amongst 

7.— Fenit (" spread over all Fenit"). 

This clearly shows that the " precise place " of the 
bitth of Brendan lay within Fenit. This is a large town- 
land, six miles west from Tralee, on the northern shore 
of its harbour, consisting of a promontory called Fenit 
Without, and an adjoining island, or rather peninsula, 
called Fenit Within. Though the area of the whole is less 
than seven hundred statute acres, it formed a separate 
parish, and an important one, in our early Celtic Church, 
and in later times it formed the corpus of the dignity 
of chancellorship in the Ardfert Cathedral, in union with 
the rectory of Kilmelchedor. There were two churches 
on the island, the ruins of which are marked on the 
Ordnance maps; of one of those, vfaiAx ^^m^W^w* 

42 Brendaniana. 

been a small oratory, there is scarcely any vestige now 
remaining; of the other, which was the parish church, 
some of the walls are standing, three feet six inches 
thick, built of the limestone of the neighbourhood, but 
very rude and primitive in structure. It was about 
forty feet long by fifteen feet broad " in the clear," and 
was a plain rectangular building, of which neither door 
nor windows can now be traced. Within a few paces 
of those ruins there are vestiges of another ancient 
building, running at right angles to it, which may have 
been an earlier church, or some religious establishment 
attached to that whose ruins I have described; and 
around the site of those buildings, for many perches 
distance, there are unmistakable signs of an exten- 
sive burial-ground in ages long gone-by, but which 
has not been used for many generations. Among 
the people who at present occupy Fenit and its vicinity, 
I have found no tradition of the birth of St. Brendan 
there; nor is this surprising, for, during the many 
centuries that have elapsed since the date of the saint's 
birth, there has been more than once an entire change 
of the population, owing to the desolating wars,famines, 
and pestilence that have often scourged those districts, 
as well as to other causes ; and the chain of local tradi- 
tions has been thus completely broken. 

Fenit must have been inhabited from the earliest 
times. In a long list of distinguished judges and 
scholars that lived in Ireland in the first century, which 
O'Curry quotes from the Senchus Mor, we find the name 
of Fergus Fiamuiite (" of Fenit," O'Curry says) ; and in 
the next two centuries it was the resort and trysting- 


Notes on the Irish Life. 48 

place of " Fianna Erinn " (the Fian Militia of Ireland), 

according to our oldest romantic tales, from whom, very 

probably, it got itsname, "Fianan," as it reads in the Irish 

Life of Brendan. One of the most interesting and, as 

O'Curry pronounces it, one pf the best authenticated of 

those ancient tales of the " Fianna Erinn," is a poem by 

their warrior poet, Oisin (Ossian), describing a visit of the 

whole host of Fians, led by the famous Fion MacCumhal 

their general, to Kerry and to the neighbourhood of 

Fenit, for the purpose of a grand horse-race on the 

magnificent strand extending from Fenit Island to 

within a short distance of Ballyheigue, for about seven 

miles, without a break. This poem of Oisin has not 

been published, but there is a spirited metrical version 

of it from the Gaelic, by Dr. Anster, in the volume of 

the Dublin University Magazine for 1852, from which 

I will give some extracts that may interest Kerry 

j I readers. The poem is supposed to have been composed 

by the warrior-bard, when he was old and blind; 

hence he was called "Guaire the blind." Thus it 

opens : — 

Guaire the blind ! there was an hour, 
When Fion was in his pride and power, 
And led the hosts of Fian men ; 
None called me blind and feeble then. 
How my thoughts for ever stray, 
From the present evil day, 
To that bright time far away. 

The Fians mustered :— 

From valley deep and wooded glen, 
I Fair Munster sent its mighty men, 

Six thousand gallant men of war, 

We sought the rath of Badamar ; 

To the King's palace home we bent* 
| Our way ; his bidden guests ^fe ^fex&. 

44 Brendaniana. 

Here there was a horse-race, in which competed the 
most famous steeds in Munster : — 

They run ; and foremost still is seen 
Dill MacDacreca's coal-black steed ; 
At Crag Lochgur he takes the lead. 

After the race, the King makes a present of this 
wonderful steed to Fion : — 

And to Finn the King thus spake : 
Take with thee the swift black steed, 
Of thy valour fitting meed. 

Fion, having received the gift : — 

Stood before the Fian ranks, 

To the EftS^raake gracious thanks, 

and then departed fiwi^e'rry : — 

Finn rode over Luachair a joyous man, 
'Till he reached the Strand of Barriman, 
At the lake where the foam on the billows top 
Leaps white, did Finn and the Fians stop. 
'Twas then that our chieftain rode and ran 
Along the Strand of Barriman, 
Trying the speed of his swift black steed ; 
Who now but Finn was a happy man. 

How my thoughts for ever stray 
To that bright time far away. 

Finn challenges Caoilte and Oisin to a race, and 


Myself and Caoilte at each side, 

In wantonness of youthful pride, 

Would ride with him where he might ride. 

Finn's black steed easily wins the race at Barriman ; 

Notes on the Irish Life. 45 

but, not content with this victory, he strikes across the 
country, followed by his companion racers : — 

Fast and furiously rode he ; 
He urged his steed to far Tralee, 
On from Tralee to Lergduglas, 
And o'er Fraegmoy, o'er Finnas. 

On still they go towards Killarney : — 

And where the fisher spreads nis net 
To snare the salmon of Lemain,* 
And thence to where our coursers' feet 
Wake the glad echoes of Lochlein. 
Away to Flesk by Camwood dun, 
And past MacScalve's Mangerton, 
Till Finn reached f Bearnac's hill at last. 

Here they alighted, and spent a night of extraordinary 
adventures ; after which they return to their starting- 
point : — 

With weariness, all weak and wan, 
We reach the Strand of Barriman ; 
The. well-known path again we meet, 
And friends with eager welcome greet. 

All this may be pure romance and poetic fiction ; 
but it is a fact worthy of note, that very near the Fenit 
end of the Strand of Barriman (Traig Bearamham, in 
the Gaelic), and near " the lake where the foam on the 
billow's top leaps white," that is, where the " back 
strand " of Eathoneen now discharges its waters into 
the main sea, often causing the billows there to leap 
very high as well as white, there are within the adjoin- 
ing sand-hills, on a cleared space, several mounds of 
what are known here about as fulacth fiansa (cooking 

River Laime. 
t Cahir Barnac Mt., near the (< Popu" 

46 Brendaniana. 

hearths of the Fians), consisting of immense quantities 
of burned stones, charcoal ashes and cinders, heaps of 
oyster-shells and various other shells, mixed with the 
bones of oxen and smaller animals, and the tines and 
other parts of deers' antlers, &c. There are many 
other such " kitchen-middens " through those sand- 
hills still visible ; many others have, no doubt, been 
covered by the shifting sands; but this congeries of 
them is the most extensive I have discovered there. 
Whether " the hosts of the Fianmen " actually prepared 
their grand feasts, and partook of them at this interesting 
place or not, we may safely assert that the residuum of 
the viands still found there would indicate "noble 
feasting," "fitting meed," for even "the ancient chivalry 
of Erin." 

The coast along this strand, as well as the whole sea- 
board of the barony of Clanmaurice, is very inhospitable 
to sea-farers ; and there is no safe harbour there except 
the small estuary opening between Fenit Island and 
Barrow ; even this is dangerous and difficult of approach 
from the bay. In consequence of this, the sea-faring 
dwellers along that coast, who, O'Donovan tells us, were 
known as feara feorna ("men of the shore"), must 
have been hardyand daring mariners. Among these 
Brendan had his birth, and spent much of his youth 
and early manhood, and from them he may have imbibed 
his " love of ocean," and first felt his ardent longing 

To see the isles that gem 
Old ocean's purple diadem. 

Often, perhaps, sauntering on the shore near the home 

Notes on the Irish Life. 47 

of his parents, when the sun was sinking in the west, 
he may 

Have watched the line of light that plays 

Along the smooth wave, tow'rd the burning west, 

And longed to tread that golden path of rays, 

And thought 'twould lead to some bright isle of rest. 

Some years ago I was present at the launching of 
a lifeboat (" The Admiral Butcher ") at Fenit. There 
was a dejeuner, and speeches, of course, on the occasion 
Dr. Haughton, Senior Fellow of Trinity College, was 
present as the friend of Surgeon Butcher, also of Trinity 
College; and in his genial, happy manner, proposed 
the toast of " The Church/' to which he called upon me, 
as the senior clergyman there, to respond. Speaking 
at Fenit, the birthplace of the great sailor saint, and 
on such an occasion, I could not help referring to 
St. Brendan and his voyages, which I did in these 
words : — " As far as w history and even legend carry us 
back, the people of this district have been brave and 
daring seamen. The earliest name we find for them 
in Irish history is ' Feara-feorna,' which may be 
Englished, ' long-shore men ; * and from amongst them 
sprang the bravest and greatest sailor that perhaps the 
world has ever seen — I mean Brendan, the voyager, 
who was born and nurtured very near the spot where 
we are now assembled, at Fenit, close upon fourteen 
hundred years ago. We read in his Life that when he 
ventured ' to tempt the main ' by his perilous voyages 
on the broad Atlantic, in his little corrachs or corracles, 
not half the size, probably, of our lifeboat of to-day, he 
was joined in his adventure by a crew of brow «£&&&& 

48 Brendaniana. 

mostly from this district. The story tells us that when 
he was about to set sail, three other men from his 
monastery at Ardfert rushed into his boat, and were 
permitted, at their most earnest entreaties, to share in 
the dangers of the enterprise. Of such stuff are our 
sailors made, and I have no doubt that the men of 
to-day, the representatives of the * feara-feorna* of old, are 
not degenerate sons of those * sea-shore men, and will 
handle our lifeboat as bravely and deftly as befits 
worthy children of the great navigator, St. Brendan." 

8. — " The Fountain of his Baptism (Tubber-na-molt, 
or Wether's Well). 
This is a remarkable well, in the townland of Tubrid, 
parish of Ardfert, which still bears the name of 
" Wether's Well." It has been for many generations 
an object of great devotion and pious pilgrimage 
throughout large districts of Kerry and the adjacent 
counties ; and there is not, I believe, any " holy well " 
in this county so frequently and generally visited for 
the purpose of "giving rounds," as the people say, or 
performing certain devotions about the well, as this 
Wether's Well. I do not think that the devout 
visitors there intend special honour to St. Brendan, or 
that many of the pilgrims know of that saint's personal 
relations with the sacred place ; but there can be no 
reasonable doubt that his baptism there was the 
fons et origo of those pious pilgrimages which grew up, 
and have continued without ceasing for many centuries 
from generation to generation, though the original 
source and incentive to the devotion have been lost to 
popular remembrance in the lapse of ages. 

Notes on the Irish Life. 49 

The legend of the " three wethers bounding from 
the well," as the reason of its name, which probably 
arose at first from the handsome " turn or treat " 
(" caomh cor" in the Irish quatrain), contrived by 
Airde MacFidaigh for Bishop Ere, in presenting him, 
as " the fee for Brendan's baptism," with those wethers 
from his large flocks pasturing near the well, has held 
its ground in popular tradition to the present day, but in 
a curiously altered shape. The legend now runs that it 
was during " the dark and evil days " of the penal laws, 
when the faith of the people was banned, and a price 
set on the head of their priests, some religious celebra- 
tion, at which there were three priests present, was 
being held in the hollow, or low ground, near this well. 
Suddenly the alarm was given by the watchers on the 
neighbouring heights, that the priest-hunters, with 
some bloodhounds, were at hand. When they reached 
the place the priests were nowhere to be seen, but 
three wethers sprung from the well before the blood- 
hounds, and led them a hot chase across the country 
for five miles or more until they suddenly disappeared 
near the sea, at a ford, hence called Atlicaorach 
(" sheep-ford") to the present day, leaving their blood- 
hound pursuers, canine and human, completely at fault. 
In this manner the origin of the name is accounted for 
by people in this district who never heard of St. Brendan's 
baptism at the well, nor of the " baptismal fee " of the 
three wethers. 

There is no record of such interference as this with 
any religious celebration there, nor of this wonderful 
deliverance of the priests engaged therein \ Ywk\JekStfcSs> 

50 Brendaniana. 

no doubt' that Mass was often celebrated near this well 
in those dreadful times of persecution, and a rude stone 
altar stands there still, in the frontal of which is set up 
a carved panel of black marble, 3 J feet long by 2 feet 
high, showing three figures in excellent workmanship ; 
the central one being that of a deceased bishop or 
abbot, in mortuary cerements, having on his right side 
the figure, probably, of St. Brendan ; and on the other, 
that of a nun, probably St. Ita, who may have been the 
patron saints of the deceased. This beautifully carved 
panel had formed part of an altar-tomb, either at 
Ardfert Cathedral, or at the Abbey Church of Ardfert, 
or at that of Kyrie Eleison, Odorney, and was the work 
of the sculptor, in the thirteenth or fourteenth century ; 
but in whose memory it was erected, there is no record 
or tradition. It was brought from one of those sacred 
shrines by some faithful Catholics, soon after the ruin 
and desolation wrought on their churches by triumphant 
heresy in the wars and confiscations of the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries ; when it may have been said 
of each of those sacred temples and abbeys : — 

Empty aisle, deserted chancel, 

Tower tottering to your fall ; 
Many a storm long since has beaten 

On the grey head of your wall ! 

Gone your abbot, rule, and order, 
Broken down your altar stones ; 

Nought see I beneath your shelter 
Save a heap of clayey bones. 

Oh I the hardship, oh ! the hatred, 

Tyranny and cruel war, 
Persecution and oppression, 

That have left you as you are. * 

•Coffins'* " Lament on Timoleague Abbey." 

Notes on the Irish Life. 51 

The faithful Catholic people, who were despoiled of 
those sacred shrines, loved them even in their desolation, 
and, in their love for the very stones of their sanctuaries, 
brought away this beautiful relic therefrom, and lovingly 
set it up " in the wilderness,'* into which they and their 
priests had been driven to worship their God, as a 
temporary altar near this "holy well," on which the holy 
Mass may be said, and from which the Bread of Life may 
still be broken to them, even in the desert, by their 
devoted priests ; just as the Jews of old, in the darkest 
hour of their affliction, when they were driven into 
exile, torn away from home and country, and from the 
great temple of God they loved so much, sought, in 
many instances, to carry away with them into captivity 
stones from the sacred courts of the temple, as some 
solace in their sorrows, and as a reminder of the glories 
that had been, even as " they sat and wept by the 
rivers of Babylon." » 

This rude altar is still very much venerated by the 
people of the district, and to the present day all pilgrims 
to the well deposit upon it their simple votive offerings. 
It is told, that some time after this altar-panel was set 
up there, a Cromwellian settler near Tralee, in his 
bigoted hatred of the Catholics of the neighbourhood, 
resolved that they should not have even the poor 
comfort of possessing this one stone of their despoiled 
sanctuaries, and sent a cart and bullock with some men 
to remove it to his place at Killeen (Oakpark) near 
Tralee. These men succeeded in getting the stone into 
the cart,, and were bringing it away, rejoicing on the 
high road by Dun-da-radharc, until they reached tb 

52 Brmdaniana. 

place now called Bullock-hill, when all at once bollock 
and cart broke down, and could not be moved one inch 
farther by all the powers of the Cromwellian bigot. 
There the stone remained, as the story tells, for some 
time, until the Catholic people mustered in force, and 
bore the stone back again in triumph, and set it up 
once more beside the well, where it still remains ; while 
of the bigoted tyrant, who sought to remove and dese- 
crate it, though a grantee of large estates in Kerry, not 
a vestige of his kith or kin is to be found in Old Killeen 
(newOakpark) for many a day. 

The well is* distant about five miles from Fenit, 
where Brendan was born ; and \rhen Bishop Ere chose 
it as the place of his baptism, so far from the home of 
his parents, it must have attracted special veneration 
even then; very probably it was generally used as the 
baptismal font for the first Christian converts in the 
surrounding districts, before baptismal churches, or even 
the earliest Christian oratories, were erected there. 

It must have been a remarkable fountain in those 
early times, for even now, when the volume of its waters 
is much reduced, there is an abundant spring of the 
purest water gurgling up from the native rock at all 
seasons. It supplies a large stream or river, now called 
" the Thyse," which flows on through Ardfert, beside 
the cathedral grounds, to the sea, and on the brink of 
which the Franciscans founded their house at Ardfert in 
1253. This river was anciently called the " Gabhra " 
(Goura), and must have been much larger than it is at 
present; for it is told in local tradition, that it was one of 
those rivers (fifty in number, the Latin Life says) that, 

Notes on the Irish Life. 53 

being Ashless, were blessed by Brendan, and " caused 
to abound in fish ;" but in the course of time, those 
who fished there churlishly refused a salmon to the 
monks of Ardfert, which they wanted for a special 
occasion ; the blessing was withdrawn, and ever since 
the Thyse is a Ashless stream, as it had been before 
Brendan's blessing. 

9. — St. Ita, the Foster-Mother of Brendan. 

This was the virgin-saint of Cluain-credhail, or 
Killeedy, County Limerick; patroness of the diocese 
of Limerick, often called the Brigid of Munster. She 
was born of noble parents, in the Decies, County Water- 
ford, and died at her convent of Killeedy, full of years 
and sanctity, in a.d. 570, according to the Annals of 
Ulster. The date of the foundation of the convent at 
Cluain-credhail is uncertain. It may have been one 
of those established by St. Brigid herself, 'during her 
travels in Munster, with a community of her nuns, 
under the guidance and patronage of St. Ere of Slane, 
of which her Lives give a rather confused account. 
I think it may be fairly inferred from what we read in 
those Lives of her progress on the occasion, that she 
visited the Ciarraighe, " the relatives of her friend," 
St. Ere, " whom she desired to see ;" and that having 
come into Kerry, she abode there "for some years" 
with the nuns, " in the house beside the sea," not far 
from where Bishop Ere dwelt. If the holy bishop did 
reside at Kilvicadagh, on the southern slope of Kerry 
Head, as I suggested in a previous note, I would take 
the " house beside the sea," where St. Brigid abode for 

64 Brendaniana. 

some years, to be the very ancient church and convent 
at Glendathlion, over the Shannon, on the northern 
slopes of Kerry Head, near which there is a holy well in 
great repute, known as St. Brigid's Well to the present 
day. If these surmises are well founded, we may 
readily believe that St. Brigid, on her way towards 
Kerry, and under the direction of Bishop Ere, founded 
the nunnery at Cluain-creadhail, perhaps some years 
before St. Ita left her parents' home in the Decies, and 
sought refuge from the world in that remote and retired 
spot "at the foot of Slieve-luachra." She must have 
come there some time before St. Brendan's birth in 483, 
and must have already won the special friendship and 
entire confidence of the Bishop, St. Ere, when he placed 
the youthful Brendan, at the age of one year, under her 
fostering care for five years. 

She seems to have had a special aptitude and grace 
in the fostering and education of youthful saints. Hence 
St. Cuimin of Connor, in his poem on the characteristics 
of our early Irish saints, devotes a stanza to the praise 
of St. Ita, beginning thus : " St. Ita loved much 
fosterage." One of her best-beloved foster-sons was 
her own nephew, St. Mochaomoge, or Pulcherius (as 
his name wao» latinized), whom she nurtured and 
educated in her convent from his childhood until he had 
reached early manhood, well trained in virtue and well 
stored with learning. One of the few popular traditions, 
from St. Brendan's time, I found surviving here in 
Ardfert, regards this saint and his foster-mother, St. 
Ita ; it runs thus : Some time after St. Brendan had 
founded his first monastery at Ardfert, his foster-mother. 

Notes on the Irish Life. 55 

St. Ita, desired to visit the house and the monks there 
of whose fervour she had heard much praise, and she also 
wished to ascertain whether her nephew, Mochaomoge, 
who had secretly left her some time before with the 
intention of entering a monastery, and of whose where- 
abouts she had no knowledge, had joined the holy 
community at Ardfert. Accompanied by one of her 
nans and a holy priest who knew the way, she made the 
toilsome journey over Slieve-luachra and through the 
dense forests that then covered much of the plains of 
Kerry, and at length reached the high ground, now 
called Doon, in the parish of Tralee, where she was 
hospitably entertained by the lord of the Dun. This 
elevated spot commanded an extensive view of the two 
great plains of Kerry, north and south ; and the story 
tells that when Ardfert, on the west, and Bathoo, on 
the north, were pointed out to the saint as the sites .of 
monasteries lately foreided by St. Brendan, she burst 
forth into praises of God, who had blessed her eyes with 
that delightful vision, and declared that the Dun, which 
afforded her so glorious a prospect, should henceforth be 
called Dun-da-riarc (" Fort of the beautiful prospect "), 
as it is called to the present day. 

After some days' rest here, the saint proceeded on 
to Ardfert, visiting the well of St. Brendan's baptism, 
" Tubber-na-molt," on her way ; and when she arrived 
at the monastery she found -the monks on religious 
retreat for the day, and unable to admit her then. 
Some of the brethren had gone to the neighbouring 
strand, as was the custom, to gather shell-fish for their 
fasting fare, and met St. Ita on ttieix xetovxni* \rok 

56 Brendaniana. 

could not' then speak to her. Next day, when the 
monks were off retreat, they received the saint with 
joyous welcome, and gave her the glad tidings that her 
dear foster-son, Mochaomoge, whom she sought so 
anxiously, was for some time a fervent member of their 
community. The story, as far as I heard, and " I tell 
the tale as 'twas told to me " many years ago by an old 
intelligent fanner, who was very much of a " shanachie " 
(Irish story-teller), does not say whether St. Brendan 
was then at his Ardfert house to welcome his dear 
friend and foster-mother, St. Ita, or not ; but very pro- 
bably he was away on one of his great Atlantic voyages 
at the time. The whole tale accords very well with 
what we read in the Lives of St. Ita and of Mochaomoge, 
of their habits of " travelling " on such visits to other 
monasteries, and especially of St. Mochaomoge's long 
wanderings in quest of " the place of his resurrection,' ' 
which he found at Leamokevoge, near Thurles, Co. 
Tipperary, where he died, and where his memory is 
held in special honour. 

There was very probably some religious establish- 
ment at Eathoo, even at that early period ; but whether 
it was one of St. Brendan's foundations, cannot now be 
surely known. The earliest account I have met of the 
residence of a bishop there or near it, is the reference to 
St. Lughdach by the Scholiast on the "Festologyof 
iEngus," at the 6th October : " Lugdach espoc. . , . 
7 ata hi raith muige tuaiscirt hi Ciarraige luachrai A. 
oc daire mochua for brufeile ("And Lughdach Bishop 
. . . also belonged to Bathoo, rath of the north 
plain, in Kerry-luachra ; that is, to Derrymochua, or 

Notes on the Irish Life. 57 

Derricoe, on the brink of the Feale) . Bishop Lughdach , 
according to Dr. Petrie, erected a church at Eathoo, 
and his festival day was October 6th. He was of the 
same Kerry stock as St. Brendan, but not in the same 
line or branch, for he was of the Ui Ferba', a very 
extensive sept in early Kerry, which afterwards gave its 
name to a large Cantred and rural deanery, stretching 
along the coast from Killury (Causeway) to Brandon- 
hill, which was known as " Offerba," and sometimes 
" Farbowe," in later records ; while St. Brendan was 
of the royal branch of the Altraighe. St. Lughdach's 
" floruit " must have come very soon after St. Brendan's, 
judging from his pedigree, in the Martyrology of 
Donegal, and also from the fact that he was the uncle 
of St. Caoilin, of Termon-Caoilin, an illustrious Kerry 
saint, who was famous for her sanctity in Connaught, 
and who was able to protect there, before the King, her 
" Kerry cousins," the Ciarraighe, who migrated thither 
in such large numbers shortly before St. Brendan's 
death, as we may learn from John O'Donovan's account, 
taken from a MS. in Trinity College Library. 

10. The Irish word here, agh, is given by O'Eeilly as 
meaning " an animal of the cow kind." Dr. Stokes 
translates it, "hind;" but the adjective " wild " may 
better apply to " a wild cow " on the impassable wastes 
of Slieve-luachra at that time, than to any kind of deer> 
of which there were few tame ones then, to distinguish 
from those that were " wild;" and, surely, a cow's milk 
was more suitable for the youthful Brendan than that 
of " the hind with her fawn." 

11 . St. Brig, sister of St.Brend&n *, aefexvote ^ surgta 

( 68 Brendaniana. 

12. The Irish text of those words of Brendan is some- 
what obscure. Dr. W. Stokes and Dr. B. MacCarthy 
agree in giving them a sense that puts rather un- 
seemly language into the mouth of this favourite 
pupil of Bishop Ere. Dr. MacCarthy translates them : 
"Go home, and take my curse; what brought you 
here?" while Dr. Stokes renders the passage: "Go 
away, and curse whoever brought thee here." Now I 
venture to say that both are needlessly vigorous in the 
rendering of " miscaidh " (misguis, in modern Irish), 
whether in an active or passive sense ; for it may mean . 
here "anger" or "resentment;" and the sense would 
be : " for this whipping you will get, don't blame me ; 
but have blame and resentment to whoever left you 
here so carelessly, to disturb me at my reading." 

The " flaxen-haired maiden " was the daughter of 

the princely chief of O'Flannan, an extensive sept-land 

on the slopes of Crusuifhloin, pronounced " crusiline" 

(O'Flannan's Cross), of which O'Heerin wrote the 

following quatrain : — 

Ui-Flannan, extensive land, 
A great land of delightful streams ; 
O'Duibhduin is over the warm land ; 
He is its king, and his care is upon it.* 

O'Donovan could not identify "the situation of 
this territory of the O'Duibhduins ;" but there is no 
difficulty about it now, since the publication of the 
" Taxation of the diocese of Ardfert " for a.d. 1300, 
in the Calendar of Documents, Ireland, brought out a 
few years ago. In this we find the rural deanery of 

* O'Donovan's translation. 

Notes on the Irish Life. 59 

" O'Flannan and O'Dtorney," the first church therein 
being Antrum Brendani (cave of St. Brendan), now called 
O'Brennan, which locates " O'Flannan " beyond all 
doubt, and from which we may fairly infer that the 
O'Duibhduin of St. Brendan's day was the father of 
" the flaxen-haired maiden/' and that one of the same 
family Was the Bishop Duibhduin, mentioned above in 
note (3) as one of the " envious bishops" who disturbed 
St. Carthage Mochuda on his first mission in his native 
Kerry, and of whose church we still have some vestiges 
at Kilduff (Church of Duibh-din ?) on the sunny slopes, 
" the warm land " of O'Flannan, not far away from 
Antrum Brendani, or O'Brennan. 

13. The Uaimh Brenainn, or cave where Brendan 
performed this penance, imposed by Bishop Ere, is well 
known for many centuries as the site of a parish church, 
and the name of a parish now called O'Brennan (the 
"O" representing the Irish " Uaimh" or cave), in the 
barony of Trughanacme, where there are the ruins of an 
ancient church, and a large and much-used grave-yard. 
The cave itself was preserved with religious care, 
perhaps from the days of Bishop Ere, through many 
centuries, and a little nunnery was built and maintained 
close beside it for many generations, for the education 
of the youth and the edification of the people of the 
district. Of this convent I heard an interesting story 
some years ago. At some remote period, when disorder 
and crime were rife in the country, a band of lawless 
men came to the little nunnery at night on evil intent, 
and loudly demanded instant admission from the 
affrighted nuns. These knew their dxeaAfoY \feT\^«3A 

6(£ Brendaniana. 

turning to God in fervent prayer, they called upon their 
holy patron, St. Brendan, to save his children from 
those wicked men. Their prayers were heard, and 
instantly delirium seized upon their assailants, who 
rushed wildly about until they tumbled into the " cave," 
from which they were utterly powerless to extricate 
themselves. There they had perforce to remain for 
some time, and though they shouted as loud even as 
Brendan " chanted the psalm" within the same cave, 
calling on the nuns to release them, they were left in 
durance, until the Bishop, who resided in the neighbour- 
hood, was brought to impose wholesome penances upon 
them, and send them away wiser, if sadder men. 

There is no trace now remaining of the little convent, 
and even the venerable cave itself cannot be identified 
with any certainty. It appears that some vandal in 
the vicinity, who wanted building stones, quarried into 
the " cave," some forty or fifty years ago, and destroyed 
almost every vestige of it. 

14.— St. Finan Cam. 

This saint was born in the early part of the sixth 
century, in Corcadhuine (now barony of Corcaguiney), 
of Christian parents, his father being Kennedigh, son 
of Maenach, son of Airde MacFidaigh (of whom see 
note (5) supra, and his mother Becnait. He was, 
probably, a near relative of St. Brendan's, and at a very 
tender age was placed under his tutelage and discipline, 
very likely in the monastery founded by Brendan on 
the western slopes of Brandon-hill some years before 
his Atlantic voyaging. Here Finan remained seven 

Notes on the Irish Life. 61 

years, and so great was bis progress in the practice of 
every virtue — so high the degree of sanctity he had 
attained, that his master, St. Brendan, said to him : 
" Brother Finan, it is not fitting that we should be any 
longer in the same house ; but we should have com- 
munities in places apart; if you desire to remain here 
with brethren of your choice, do so, in God's name, 
and I will go elsewhere." " No, father," said Finan, 
" I am the younger, and I should not trespass longer on 
your labours ; I will go away, therefore ; and bless me, 
that my journey may be prosperous." Finan journeyed 
on, by Brendan's advice, to Slieve-Bloom, at the foot 
of which he founded soon after his famous monastery 
of Kinnitty (King's County). He returned frequently 
to his native Kerry, as his Life states, and dwelt for 
some years on the borders of Loch Lein (Lakes of 
Killarney), when, it is most probable, he founded 
the monastery at Innisfallen, though his namesake, 
St. Finan Lobhair, has been often credited with that 
foundation. He is also said to have spent some time 
in Iveragh, and founded some houses and churches 
there ; but I believe the Finan of Loch-laoich, where 
the beautiful ancient oratory of St. Finan, remains, 
and of Daire-Fhinain (Derrynane) was quite a different 
person. In this opinion I am strengthened by the 
following quatrain in the Dirge of Ireland, by Mr. 
John O'Connell, the Iveragh poet, who wrote about 
1660, and who knew the traditions, civil and religious, 
of that country remarkably well. Towards the close 
of his Dirge he makes what a competent judge has 
called " a supremely beautiful anfli ^taeXafc rc^sk *» 

62 Brendaniana. 

God and the Irish saints " to save his country and his 
faith from further calamity; among other saints he 
invokes : 

Flonan Cluana-Iraird *$a cleire, 
Finan Faithlin air an Lein-loch 9 
Finan Locha-laoich, mo naomhsa, 
Do rug dnphlaig Uibhrathac saor leis. 

That is: "Finnian of Clonard and his disciples; 
Finan of Tnisfallen on Loch-lein ; and Finan of Loch- 
lee (or Loch Currane), my patron-saint, who brought 
Iveragh safe from the plague." Here the poet invokes 
the Finan of Iveragh, his own special patron saint, 
and the patron saint of the many branches of the 
O'Connell sept then in Iveragh, and distinguishes him 
unmistakably from the holy patron and founder of 
Inisfallen, St. Finan, whom I strongly believe to have 
been no other than Finan Cam. 

In the Latin Life of the latter we have an interesting 
story. The saint used what is called a chariot (carbad 
in Gaelic) occasionally, and taking a drive one day on 
the shore of Loch-lein, his horse dropped dead under 
his humble carbad. Suddenly there came forth from 
the lake a beautiful pie-bald (the nearest English I can 
find for the Latin hyachintinus) horse, that at once 
submitted to be harnessed into the chariot, and drove 
the holy father on his journey. For three years this 
wonderful horse was his faithful servant, and when he 
had no further occasion for his services, he ordered him 
to return into the lake, which the obedient steed did 
without delay. Who has not heard of the legend of 
O'Donoghue's " White horse," careering on the Killarney 

Notes on the Irish Life. 63 

Lakes, of a May morning? Have we here in this 
story, in the Vita Sti. Finani, the earliest version of 
this Killarney legend ; and is the " piebald steed " of 
the man of God, in the sixth century, " that returned 
into the Lakes," by his command, the original of the 
O'Donoghue's " white charger," so celebrated in after 
centuries, even to the present day ? . 

I have some reason to surmise that this St. Finan 
was the founder also of ancient Achadeo, as well as 
Inisfallen, and perhaps Achadeo was the earlier founda- 
tion of the two. Dr. Lanigan (Eccles. History, vol. iii., 
page 19) suggests that Kilachaid-conchinne was founded 
by St. Finan Cam, in Corcadhuine (Corcaguiney), where 
the saint was born. Unfortunately, Dr. Lanigan, with 
all his marvellous knowledge of Irish ecclesiastical 
history, knew very little of Kerry topography. If he 
knew more of it, he might have found out that the 
church of Achad-Gconchinne, was not in Corcaguiney, 
but in Magh-Gconchinne (Magunihy, as given in Four 
Masters, a.d. 1581), and that the church of this achad 
(field), in Magunihy, was no other than the church of 
Achadeo (field of the two yews), the most conspicuous 
achad within the barony of Magunihy. It is not 
surprising, therefore, that St. Finan should be honoured 
as the patron saint of ancient Achadeo for so many 
centuries; but it is strange and regretable, that the 
patron-day should be given to another Finan, who 
had really no just claim to it ; and that in the lapse of 
ages, March 16th, the feast day of St. Finan-Lobhair, 
should have supplanted April the 7th, the festival-day 
of St. Finan Cam, the special friend oi ^\u^£>tk&&sxsl\ 

64 hrendaniana. 

and it is still more strange that this feast-day of Finan 
" the Leper," should be also the patron-day of St. Finan 
of Lochlaoich, the patron saint " who brought Iveragh 
safe from the plague/' and who founded those beautiful 
churches and oratories, the ruins of which yet remain 
in that barony, where St. Finan-Lobhair never came. 

15. — "The Pillar-stone that yet remains." 

In the townland of Lerrig, within a short distance 
of Tarmuin-Birc, of which I wrote in note (4) supra, 
there stands a very curious pillar-stone, called Gallane- 
Lerrigeh, which must have stood for centuries, perhaps, 
before St. Brendan's time, so notable are the tokens of 
hoar antiquity upon it. It bears an inscription, in 
Ogham characters, which, from the weathering of the 
stone and other causes, is now illegible. At a short 
distance it has the appearance of the mutilated trunk 
of a human figure, and it would not require a lively 
imagination to fancy that this curious stone was really 
that pillar-stone, in the shelter and shadow of which 
St. Brendan's protegi had his miraculous escape from 
his enemies. 

16. — "Holy Orders" of Priesthood of 
St. Brendan. 
St. Brendan was ordained priest after his journeys in 
Connaught and elsewhere in Ireland, by Bishop Ere, a 
short time before his death, in 512 or 514. The holy 
Bishop must have soon after withdrawn from Kerry to 
his hermitage over the " blue waters " of the Boyne, 
to prepare for a saintly death. 

Notes on the Irish Life. 65 

17.— St. Colman MacLbnin. 

St. Colman, bishop, founder, and patron of the 
Church of Cloyne, was of the royal family of Munster. 
In his earlier years he was distinguished for his poetic 
talents and was court poet at the royal court of Cashel, 
but after his conversion by St. Brendan he consecrated 
his poetic gifts to the service of religion. His con- 
version took place about the middle of the sixth 
century, for he assisted, it is said, about that date, as 
royal bard at the inauguration of Aodh Caomh, as King 
of Munster. The story of his conversion is given in 
the Book of Munster (Eoyal Irish Academy) as follows : 
A dispute arose between rival claimants of the king- 
ship of Cashel. Aodh Caomh was declared king, but 
Brendan, who was present, and MacLenin, were given 
as guarantors to the other claimant, that the kingship 
should be given to him, after Aodh's death, or to his 
son, if he did not survive. Then it was that Brendan 
saw a watch of angels over Lothra (North Tipperary), 
and told of it to the king. Brendan sent one of his 
disciples with MacLenin (Colman) and witnesses from 
the king to ascertain what had occurred there. When 
they reached the place, they found the shrine of 
St. Ailbe (who had died some time before) in the form 
of a chest — which had been lately stolen, and the bodies 
of the young men, who had stolen it, dead in the neigh- 
bouring Lake — " whom God had drowned." " The 
shrine was brought by MacLenin to Brendan, and he 
knew that God's grace was upon MacLenin, who had 
brought it in his hands; then he said to li\mtta&^ 

66 Brendaniana. 

was not fitting that those hands that had touched and 
bore the holy shrine of the blessed Ailbe should ever 
after be employed save in the sacred ministry of God. 
Hence MacLenin left the court of the king and 
became a disciple of St. Brendan's." 

The date of the foundation of his church at Cluain- 
uamha (Cloyne) is not certain. He died in the year 
604, on the 24th of November, the day marked in all 
the calendars of Irish saints, and on which his festival 
is still observed in the diocese of Cloyne. 

18.— The Poem of St. Colman, in honour of 
This poem consists of five quatrains, the first of 
which I give in the Irish text. Dr. Whitley Stokes 
says that the poem is not given in the Brussels MS., 
and as he had no other copy but that in the Book of 
Lismore, he could translate " only a few words of it." 
The language seems to be very archaic, and probably 
was carelessly transcribed. I sent my copy some years 
ago to an Irish scholar of some repute, and he returned 
it untouched. Another Gaelic scholar whom I employed 
sent me a translation which I do not consider reliable. 

19. — St. Jarlath. 

This great saint was born late in the fifth century, 
of a noble family. He was educated by St. Benignus, 
at bis school of Kilbannon, which he established some 
years after his mission in Kerry. He founded a monas- 
tery at Cluainfois, not far from Kilbannon, and here it 
was that St. Brendan visited him and remained under 

Notes on the Irish Jjife. 67 

his instruction for some time. St. Brendan foretold 
that " the place of his resurrection " should be, not at 
Cluainfois, but at Tuaim-da-Guallan (Tuam) ; and he 
accordingly removed thither afterwards, where he 
founded a church, which, in the course of time became 
the see of the Archbishop of Tuam. The year of his 
death is not known; and his festival, though marked in 
some calendars on the 26th of December, is observed 
in the Archdiocese on the 6th of June. 

20. — The Poem composed by St. Bbendan and 
St. Jablath. 

Dr. W. Stokes has not given a translation of this 
poem, as he could fincl no second copy to help in getting 
at the sense. I find a translation, or rather a para- 
phrase of it, in the Notes on the Life of St. Brendan, 
in vol. viii. of the Irish Ecclesiastical Becord, page 85 
(New Series, 1871-72). Where this was • clearly too 
loose from the text, I have tried to bring it closer, and 
I think I have succeeded to some extent. The site of 
this Ard Belig na n* angel, was, it appears, the property 
of MacDuach, son of Duach Teangumbha, alias 
Galach (the Valorous), King of Connaught, who died 
in 504 {Four Masters in anno.), and Jarlath promises 
to give him for it " its full price," viz., abundance of 
temporal blessings and heaven without end. 

21. — The Bule dictated by the Angel. 
No fragments of this Bnle are now extant, or have 
been discovered, though it was known to the writer of 
the Latin Life of Brendan, who must have compiled it 
many centuries after the saint's \\te\>vmfe, lot \» wj% 

68 Brendaniana. 

" that Brendan shaped his life and that of his monks', 
according to that Bule, which is still preserved by the 
successors of the saint." 

Other roles of this kind have come down to us from 
the immediate disciples of St. Patrick, who were the 
fathers and masters of monastic discipline in our early 
Church, even in St. Brendan's time. Perhaps the most 
valuable and most complete of those is the Bule of 
St. Ailbe of Emly, a good translation of which is given 
in those Notes on the Life of St. Brendan that I referred 
to before, and of which the writer says : " It is not too 
much to say that, in some respects, this is the most 
precious document that has been handed down to us by 
our fathers. It tells us the principles which guided the 
monks in their practices of religious perfection ; it sets 
before us the daily routine of the community life ; it 
mentions the various superiors, their special duties, the 
virtues to be practised, the faults to be shunned ; it 
descends to the minutest details connected with the 
religious, and gives even the quantity and quality of the 
food to be used at their frugal repasts. This ancient 
Bule consists of sixty-nine strophes, and the Boyal 
Library, Brussels, preserves a very old and complete 
copy." What u pity that the Bule of St. Brendan, 
which was so excellent that it was believed to have 
been dictated to him by an angel, has not been similarly 
preserved ! 

The Plain of Ai, where St. Brendan is said to have 
received his Bule of the religious life, and to have 
wrought the signal miracle stated in the text, was, 
according to John O'Donovan, in his Notes to Leabhar 

Notes on the Irish Life. 69 

na-g-Ceart, " a beautiful plain in the county of Eos- 
common, extending from near the town of Eoscommon to 
the verge of the barony of Boyle, and from the bridge of 
' Cloonfree,' near Strokestown, westwards to Castlerea." 
These are, he says, the limits of this plain, according to 
a local tradition ; but, he adds, the surmise that, from 
the position of the Ciarraidhe-Aei, a colony of Kerry 
people, who migrated to this part of Connaught, about 
St. Brendan's time, under the patronage of St. Caoilin, 
a Kerry saint who dwelt there, and through her in- 
fluence with King Aedh MacEochaidh, were granted 
lands upon this plain, it must have extended farther to 
the west, beyond Castlerea, and may have included a 
portion of the county of Mayo, near the town of 
Turlough, in the barony of Carra. 

In reference to the offer of land made to St. Brendan 
by the King, the Latin Life of the Saint, in the 
Burgundian Library, JBrussels, tells us that "the man 
of God, not wishing to be puffed up with -worldly favours, 
declined the proffered gift, but gave his blessing in 
return for the offer made to him, and took his departure 
for West Connaught, where he may conceal the great 
fame of his miracle. There, in some time, he converted 
many souls to Christ, and then returned, with many 
disciples, to Bishop Ere." 

22. — The Motives of the Great Voyages on 

the Ocean. 

These are variously represented in the Lives. In the 

Irish Life, the words of the Gospel, quoted in the text, 

urged the saint to leave home and famibj *xA waa&rj 

70 Brendaniana. 

for " the love of God that grew in him exceedingly ;" 
and to seek " the secret, retired, secure retreat in the 
ocean, far apart from mankind." In other accounts of 
his voyage, his motives are set down to his burning 
zeal for the salvation of souls that in those remote isles 
of the ocean, may still " gasp and faint for God's refresh- 
ing word ; " as our national poet, D. F. MacCarthy, so 
well expresses it, in Brendan's person : — 

I grew to manhood by the Western wave 

Among the mighty mountains on the shore ; 
My bed the rock, within some natural cave, 

My food whate'er the seas or seasons bore ; 
Myoccupation, morn and noon and night, 

The only dream my hasty slumbers gave, 
Was Time's unheeding, unretuming flight, 

And the great world that lies beyond the grave. 

And thus, where'er I went, all things to me 

Assumed the one deep colour of my mind ; 
Great nature's prayer rose from the murmuring sea, 

And sinful man sighed in the wintry wind ; 
The thick-veiled clouds by shedding many a tear, 

Like penitents, grew purified and bright, 
And, bravely struggling through earth's atmosphere, 

Passed to the regions of eternal light. 

And then I saw the mighty sea expand 

Like Time's unmeasured and unfathomed waves 
One with its tide-marks on the ridgy sand, 

The other* with its line of weedy graves. 
And as beyond the outstretched wave of time, 

The eye of faith a brighter land may meet 
So did I dream of some more sunny clime, 

Beyond the waste of waters at my feet. 

Some clime where man, unknowing and unknown, 
For God's refreshing word still gasps and faints 

Or, happier rather, some Elysian zone, 
Made for the habitation of the saints. 

Notes on the Irish Life. 71 

The thought grew stronger with my growing days, 

Even lie to manhood's strengthening mind and limb, 
And often now amid the purple haze 

That evening breathed upon the horizon's rim — 
Methought, as there I sought my wished-for home, 

I could descry amid the waters green, 
Full many a diamond shrine and golden dome, 

And crystal palaces of dazzling sheen. 

But angels came, and whispered, as I*dreamt: 

" This is no phantom of a frenzied brain — 
God shows this land from time to time, to tempt 

Some daring mariner across the main. 
By thee the mighty venture must be made ; 

By thee shall myriad souls to God be won ; 
Arise, depart, and trust to God for aid I" 

I woke, and kneeling, cried, " His will be done I" 

In the valuable and interesting Preface to JubenaPs 
edition of the Latin Life of St. Brendan, we find another 
curious account of the reason of his great voyages, 
which, as it may help to explain the analogy " in the 
manner of life and character" of St. Thomas the 
Apostle, and St. Brendan, set forth in a " List of Saints 
who were similar in their manner of life," contained in 
the Book of Leinster, I will give it here. 

Jubenal refers to an early version of the voyage of 
Brendan in ancient Low-German, or Low-Saxon, written, 
he thinks, in the fourteenth century. It is metrical, consist- 
ing of 1,752 verses, and agrees, in the main, with the Latin 
and French versions, but the opening is different : — 

" Brendan, having read a book full of miraculous 
stories, so strange and incredible, waxed indignant at 
such extravagancies, and threw the book into the fire. 
Then God, to punish his incredulity, commanded him 
to forsake his country — to take ship and •troraftfe ^3ca 

72 Brendaniana. 

wide ocean for seven years, that he may see, with his 
X)wn eyes, those wonders, and greater than those 
wonders, he deemed so unworthy of his belief/' This 
is somewhat parallel with St. Thomas's incredulity, as 
narrated in the Gospel ; and some story of the kind may 
have led to Brendan's being compared with St. Thomas 
by the old Iri3h writers. 

23. — Sliebh-Daidche (Brandon-Hill. 

From the context here, it seems that the place where 
Brendan first heard "the voice of the angel from 
heaven," was not far from this Sliebh-Daidche, to which 
" he retired alone," and from which " he gazed upon the 
vast and gloomy ocean on every side ;" and there can be 
scarcely any doubt that this place was the house or 
monastery founded by him at the foot of this mountain 
on the west, where he had St. Finan Cam under his 
religious training for ueven years, as stated in Note (14) 
supra, and where he dwelt occasionally for many years 
before his Atlantic voyages. The site of this foundation 
of the saint may be approximately determined by a. 
story preserved in the Itinerary of Geraldus Cam- 
brensis, quoted by Holinshed, in his quaint style and 
language, as follows : — * 

Legend op St. Brendan.* 

" In the south part of Munster, between the maine 
sea coasting on Espaine (Spain) and St. Brandon's 
Hills, there is an island, of the one side encompassed 

* From Kerry Magazine, vol. ii. t p. 95. 

Notes on the Irish Life. 73 

with a river abundantlie stored with fish, and on the 
other part enclosed with a little brook, in which place 
St. Brendan was very much restante. This plot is 
taken to be such a sanctuary for beasts, as if anie hare, 
fox, stag, or other wild beaste be chased near that 
island by dogges, it making straight for the brooke, and 
as soon as it passeth the streame, it is so cocksure, as 
the hunter may perceive the beasts resting on the one 
bank, and the dogges questing on the other brim, being, 
as it were, by some invisible railes unbarred from 
dipping their feet in the shallow ford to pursue the 
beaste chased. On the other side of this island there 
runneth a river stored above measure with fresh fish, 
and especially with salmon, which abundance proceeded 
from God to provide the great hospitality that was kept 
there ; and in order that the dwellers thereabout shall 
not, like pinching costrels, make any sale of the fish, 
let it be poudered (salted) as artificially as it may be, 
yet it will not keep above the first night or daie that 
it is taken, so that you may eat it within a short 
compasse, otherwise it putrifieth, and standeth to no 

This " plot that was so great a sanctuary for beasts," 
where " St. Brendan was very much restante," can be 
easily traced even at present. It was on the banks of 
the river Feoghanach, which flows from a lake on the 
western slope of Brandon-hill, and which forms a fine 
river for some miles before it reaches the sea near 
Smerwick harbour. For its size and the length of its 
course, it is one of the best and earliest salmon rivet* 
in Ireland, its fish being of a Bmgo\a.xV5 ^&&a*t& w& 

74 Brendaniana. 

delicious quality. I had some experience of this on a 
certain occasion many years ago. A friend sent me a 
-present of two salmon from the Feoghanach, for use on 
Christmas eve. When I received them it was, of course, 
the close season there, as on every other river in Kerry, 
and I thought my friend, while intending to be very 
kind, was not very judicious in his kindness, in sending 
me what I assumed to be " black," because unseason- 
able, salmon. However, I had the fish cooked, "within 
a short compasse ;" and I certainly did not " pouder " 
(salt) any of them, when I found them both in splendid 
condition and of delicious quality. On the borders of 
this river, in the townland of KiKjuane, there are the 
ruins of an ancient church, which gives a name to the 
parish as well as to the townland, Kilquane (Church of 
Cuan or Mochua), the founder of which lived very 
probably not long after the days of St. Brendan, and 
who seems to have been a very zealous and successful 
church- founder in Kerry, where we find no less than 
five very early churches bearing the name Kilquane ; 
and, perhaps, as many more named from Mochua, an 
alias of the same holy man. But the church and 
monastery of Brendan's foundation lay on the other 
side of this river, somewhat nearer to the western 
slopes of Brandon-hill, where we find a townland 
named Shankeel (Sean-Cill, or Old Church), on which 
there bad been a church of earlier date than Kilquane, 
which was called the " Old Church," when Kilquane 
was founded many years after it. Here, I surmise, lay 
the scene of Gerald Barry's marvellous story, though 
" the httle brook" there has lost its wonderful virtues, 

Notes on the Irish Life. 75 

and " the invisible railes " are no longer bars to the 
hunters' " dogges." 

On this townland of Shankeel, and on the adjoining 
one, Ballynavinoorach, there are, or were some years 
ago, the remains of a large number of " dogbanes/* or 
ancient beehive cells or houses, which may have been 
the dwellings of the monks whom the .great repute of 
St. Brendan had gathered around him in his monastery 
there ; and higher up on the hill-side, where it slopes 
sharply towards the precipitous cliffs of that most 
picturesque coast, we find amid the moory wastes a 
green plot, called to the present day, " fuithir-na- 
manac " (the good land of the monks). There can be 
no doubt that St. Brendan had lived many years, in or 
near this district, in Corcaguiney. In the first of these 
notes, in which I gave his most reliable pedigree, it 
has been stated that, to all the copies of this pedigree, 
in MacFerbuis and the Leabhar Breac, there is added 
the scholium, " Agus do Corcadubhne dho " (he also 
belonged to Corcaguiney), plainly intimating his long 
residence there. And we are told in the Latin Life, 
that " soon after his priestly ordination," he founded 
cells and monastic houses in " his own country, but 
not many, before his voyage in quest of the land of 
promise." One of those I believe to have been the 
monastery of Shanakeel or Ballynavinoorach at the 
foot of Brandon-hill, which was founded about the same 
time as his proto-monastery at Aidfert-Brendan. 

From this monastery the saint often retired into the 
mountain then called " Daidche," but with which hia 
name has been associated for long cei\\»\xfvfefc\ *xiVfcs5» 

76 Brendaniana. 

he devoted much time to prayer and heavenly contem- 
plation. And what a place for heavenly contemplation 
was this ! How happily could the saintly soul here 
withdraw from cares of earth to commune alone with 
God while he knelt in lowly reverence on those heights 
of the eternal hills, surrounded on every side by 
the works of the Creator ! Who can describe that 
glorious vision that fills the eye and bewilders the sense 
from Brandon Peak, at its elevation of 3,125 feet ? It 
has been well said that no such prospect of sea and 
island, and mountain and plain, can be had in the 
three kingdoms ; "from Aran of the Saints " on the 
north ; along by the magnificent cliffs of Clare ; across 
the Shannon estuary, which Arthur Young pronounced 
to be "the noblest mouth of a river in Europe ;" by 
Kerry Head ; round by those sublime cliffs and head- 
lands that go out to meet the " league-long' rollers " of 
the wide Atlantic, from Brandon Point to the Dursies, 
at the mouth of the Kenmare river, in the far south. 
Of the magnificent panorama which greeted the vision 
of the saint from this mountain height, may well be 
said : — 

And thus an airy point he won, 
Where/* gleaming with the setting sun, 
One burnish'd sheet of living gold, 
Old ocean lay beneath him roli'd ; 
In all her width far winding lay, 
With promontory, creek, and bay ; 
And islands that empurpled bright, 
Floated amid the livelier light ; 
And mountains that, like giants, stand 
To sentinel enchanted land. 

Brendan gazed upon this gorgeous display of nature's 

Notes on the Irish Life. 77 

wealth of beauty in ecstacies of gratitude to the great 
Creator ; and while he gazed upon that wondrous ocean, 
spread out before his eyes like a map, especially at 
evening, when " the line of light from the burning 
west" seemed a golden path to other climes where 
souls may be won to Christ, or where lay some shadowy 
land of the blessed, " reposing in the giant embrace of 
the deep," it is no wonder that thoughts and impulses 
" to tread that golden path " and resolves to go forth in 
quest of that " beautiful noble island " which he had 
seen in vision, should have seized upon him and filled 
his whole soul. 

We read in a Life * of Columbus, that his friend, Fra 
Juan Peres, who welcomed and entertained him at his 
convent at La Eabida, near Palos, and afterwards 
secured for him the patronage of Queen Isabella, was 
well qualified by nature and study to sympathize with 
the thoughts and aspirations of the great discoverer. 
He, like Columbus, longed for the discovery of new 
lands, in order that Christ might be preached to more 
men ; and the place of his abode was well suited to feed 
his restless imagination and Christian hopes. He had 
built an observatory on the roof of his convent, and he 
spent much of his spare time in contemplating the stars 
by night and the ocean by day. While he watched and 
peered far out upon the wide sea, the question ever 
recurred : " Did that mare tenebrosum really bound the 
world, or had it a farther shore, with races of men to be 
evangelized ? " There was infinite room for speculation 
where all was conjecture. 

• Father Knight's Life of Columbia. 

78 Brendaniana. 

In a like spirit had Brendan, centuries before Fra 
Peres, gazed upon that mare tenebrosum from his lofty 
observatory on Brendan Peak, discussed within himself 
like questionings, and was animated by like Christian 
hopes and yearnings for new lands where souls 
may be saved. This elevated scene of Brendan's 
retirement and contemplation must have become the 
object of devout pilgrimage in honour of the saint 
very soon after his lifetime. He may have built 
there one of those primitive oratories, of which so 
many examples are still preserved in that district, and 
blessed that marvellous well of purest water, that springs 
up yet at almost the highest level of the mountain. 
But whether he built an oratory there or not, in the 
course of time oratories and penitential stations were 
erected there, of which the remains are still to be seen ; 
and these were thronged with pious pilgrims from very 
early times. To accommodate those devout visitors to 
the holy mountain, there was made, at some remote 
period, a passable causeway over hill and bog for seven 
miles, from Eilmelchedor Church to the summit of the 
hill, which can still be traced, and is known by the 
people as Casan na Naomh (path of the saints). The 
course of this is marked on the Ordnance Map (6 in.) 
as the " saint's road." Along this " way of the saints " 
many a long-drawn-out procession of clergy and laity 
moved from the church and house of Brendan at Eil- 
melchedor, up the mountain slopes, until they reached 
the highest peak, there to join in some devout celebra- 
tion. Local tradition tells, that on some high festival, 
when there was a grand procession, it was found, when 

Notes on the Irish Life. 79 

the head of the procession arrived at the holy place, the 
missal containing the Mass of the day had been left 
behind at the church, seven miles away, and then word 
was passed along the line of procession, which reached 
all the way back to the church, and the book, in a short 
time being sent on from hand to hand, was forthcoming 
on the hill-top. 

The ascent of the mountain from that direction is 
comparatively easy, and along this " way of the saints," 
from the west and south, the toil of the pilgrim was 
not very severe ; but the ascent from the east to the 
mountain top, that is, from the Cloghane side, was a very 
different matter ; for here, indeed, there were stress and 
toil in the stiff and rather perilous climb up the dizzy 
heights that frowned over the way of the pilgrim. 
Bocks, chasms, and sharp declivities, appear on every 
side; but, as on the western side, the pathway of 
the devout visitor was improved and made compara- 
tively easy, so also on this precipitous side, the 
ascent has been relieved of many of its difficulties 
and dangers by the thoughtful care of the monks. 
Steps are cut in the solid rocks; every difficult point of 
marsh, intersecting stream, or frowning declivity, is 
bridged over with solid stones, well worn by time and 
by the feet of the pilgrims, but still firmly and safely 
set in their position. This work is evidently one of 
remote antiquity, and it must have cost much time and 
labour, and required no ordinary degree of engineering 
skill to make a passable roadway over such difficult 
ground, for three miles, from Cloghane ancient church 
to the oratories on the summit of t\ife \i\YL *Y^ 

80 Brendaniana, 

construction of this Via Sacra would alone clearly 
indicate the wide-spread repute and esteem in which 
this mountain sanctuary of St. Brendan was held as a 
place of devout pilgrimage and penitential retreat ; but 
the singular fact of its becoming a benefice church at a 
very early period, and receiving larger revenues as such 
than any church or benefice in the diocese of Ardfert, 
except two, as we learn from the Taxation of Ardfert 
before the year 1300, gives even a stronger proof of the 
multitude of the pilgrims, and the generosity of their 
votive offerings at this lofty shrine of the saint. There 
is no doubt that to receive and accommodate this 
concourse of pilgrims, larger churches and monastic 
buildings were erected on the sacred spot, than a visitor 
to the place at present would suspect. The remains 
visible now are not extensive nor remarkable in any 
way ; but some years ago, when the public pilgrimage 
of July,' 1868, was being organized, and a temporary 
altar set up within the ruins of one of the ancient 
oratories there; in providing stones for the purpose 
on the mountain-top, a number of sculptured stones 
were turned up, some of them arched, others carved, 
like the stones in the richly-carved doorway of 
Kilmecheder Church ; many of them were of some 
foreign marble, and several of them were pierced 
through with dowel-holes for gudgeons and cramps 
to secure more durably the walls of a church built 
on this elevated site. All this would show that a 
church of goodly dimensions, and of some architectural 
merits had been erected there, as well as oratories and 
penitential stations, together with dwellings of some 

Notes on the Irish Life. 8l 

kind for the Fathers and monastic brethren, who minis- 
tered in the church and oratories, and attended to the 
spiritual and temporal needs of the pilgrims. It may 
well be questioned whether there has been anywhere in 
Europe, or perhaps in the world, a mountain sanctuary 
such as this Sedes Brendani, at so great an elevation, 
amid the clouds and mists and storms inseparable from 
the position, with groups of buildings so extensive, and 
the concourse of pilgrims so numerous, as graced and 
honoured for many centuries this sanctuary of St.Brendan 
on the loftiest peak of Brandon-hill. 

This " Ecclesia Montis Brendani " was taxed in the 
rural deanery of O'Ferba, one of the five deaneries that 
composed the ancient diocese of Ardfert before its 
union with Aghadoe, and it was the terminal church of 
that deanery, which extended from Killury (Causeway) 
to Brandon-hill, and there touched the rural deanery of 
O'Souris, which wound along the coast from the western 
slopes of this hill, and from Dunquin in the extreme 
west to the " Villa Pontis," as it is designated in the 
Taxatio, now Castlemain, so called from the castle 
built on its very ancient bridge across the river Maine. 
How long this sanctuary on Brandon-hill maintained 
its status of being third in point of revenue of all the 
churches of the diocese of Ardfert, which it held in 
the Taxation of 1300; or how long it continued to 
receive those rich votive offerings from the pilgrims 
who resorted to its shrines in such numbers as to give 
it that financially respectable position, it is now, I fear, 
impossible to ascertain. There is no reason to doubt 
that it long maintained a high repute as an approved 

82 Brendamana. 

penitential retreat, as well as a favourite place of devout 
pilgrimage, not only during the Middle Ages, but long 
after the religious fervours and the penitential rigours 
of those " ages of faith " had unhappily abated. 

There is a remarkable case on record, of a penitential 
pilgrimage to Brandon-hill in the first half of the six- 
teenth century. In the Eegisterof Primate Dowdall 
of Armagh we read of a great criminal, a parracide, 
guilty of the murder of his son, who, having publicly 
confessed his crime and submitted to a course of public 
penance, was directed by the diocesan penitentiary 
to make a pilgrimage to the principal " penitential 
stations " in Ireland before he would be canonically 
restored to the communion of the faithful. Among 
those principal " stations " Knock-Brenain (Brandon- 
hill) holds a foremost place in the list of them given 
in the " Begister," ranking with " Ara of the Saints," 
" St. Patrick's Purgatory at Loughderg," " Skellig of 
St. Michael," " Holy Cross in Ormond," and the others 
enumerated. When the pilgrim returned to Armagh 
with proper certificates of his having visited all those 
penitential stations, and gave other satisfactory indi- 
cations of sincere repentance, he was formally absolved 
and reconciled with the Church. This case may be 
taken as a fair illustration of the penitential practices 
of the faithful in Ireland long before, as well as long 
after, the date at which it occurred, while it furnishes a 
clear indication of how widely and generally through 
Ireland the " Station " on Brandon-hill was recognised 
as a suitable resort for such practices of penance. 
Though for many long years the sacred shrines on the 

Notes on the Irish Life. 83 

" Hill " lie rained and desolate, many pilgrims still 
resort to it for purposes of devotion and penance, and 
some years ago a public pilgrimage thereto, joined in 
by many thousand persons, took place, an account of 
which will form the last piece in these " Brendaniana." 

24. — "Twenty men in each vessel." 
In the Irish Life there is no reference here to the 
voyage of Brendan to visit St. Enda of Aran for the 
purpose of taking counsel with him about his intended 
quest of the " Land of Promise of the Saints;" of 
which D. F. MacCarthy sings : — 

Hearing how blessed Enda lived apart, 

Amid the sacred caves of Ara-mhor, 
And how beneath his eye, spread like a chart, 

Lay all the isles of that remotest shore ; 
And how he had collected in his mind 

All that was known to man of the Old Sea, 
I left the *Hill of Miracles behind, 

And sailed from out the shallow sandy Leigh. 

When I proclaimed the project that I nursed, 

How 'twas for this that I his blessing sought, 
An irrepressible cry of joy outburst 

From his pure lips, that blessed me for the thought. 
He said that he, too, had in visions strayed 

Over the un tracked ocean's billowy foam ; 
Bade me have hope, that God would give me aid, 

And bring me safe back to my native home. 

Thus having sought for knowledge and for strength 
For the unheard-of voyage that I planned, 

I left those myriad isles, and turned at length 
Southward my bark, and sought my native land. 

In the Navigatio, of which I will give a literal and 
unabridged translation, this visit to St. Enda and Ara 
* Ardfert {Salt us Virtutum — in the Nauiqatio\ 

84 Brendaniana. 

of the Saints is mentioned in some detail before the 
'account given of his sailing on his Atlantic voyage, and 
the number of those who accompanied him on this 
visit is stated to have been fourteen, while the number 
of his fellow-mariners on the great voyage is not dis- 
tinctly stated. In the copy I have from the Book of 
Lismwe of this Irish Life, the number is marked in 
Boman numerals (XX) ; that is, twenty in each vessel, 
making sixty in all ; though in the text of the annexed 
poem of three quatrains, which is copied from the 
Egerton MS. (British Museum), the number in each 
vessel is given (tricha) " thirty." But I give in the 
translation " twenty" — which I have the warrant of the 
most reliable early Irish tradition for believing to be 
the correct number. It is now clearly proved that there 
was in the Calendar of our early Church a special festival 
in honour and commemoration of the "Egressio fami- 
li© St. Brendani" (the Setting Sail of St. Brendan's 
Crew), and the number of this " family* ' or crew must 
have been well known to number " sixty," or twenty 
in each of the three vessels, when St. iEngus Cele-De 
invokes them in his Book of Litanies, thus : — " I invoke 
unto my aid the sixty, who accompanied St. Brendan in 
his quest of the Land of Promise." (" Sexaginta qui 
comitati sunt Stum Brendanum in exquirenda terra 
prcmissionis invoco in auxilium meum") This festival 
of the " Egressio" is -marked in the Martyrology of 
Tallaght on the 22nd of March, and must have been 
religiously observed in our Irish Church long before the 
date of the compilation of this Martyrology ; that is, 
before a.d. 787, when it was compiled by St. iEngus 

Notes on the Irish Life. 85 

and St. Moelruin, at Tallaght, near Dublin ; and the 
Book of Litanies is believed to have been composed 
before the year 800. The tradition of the voyage of St. 
Brendan, and the number who sailed with him on his 
great enterprise, must have been well established at 
that period. Colgan,* after referring to this festival 
"in honour of the setting sail," mentions the Lives 
of saints who lived about St. Brendan's time, or soon 
after, which contain some references to his voyage, viz. : 
The Life of St. Flannan, chapter 5 ; of St. Ita, chapter 
31 ; of St. Munnu, chapter 25 ; of St. Brigid, chapter 49 ; 
of St. Machutus, or Maclovius, by John A. Hosco, passim; 
and' the Life of St. Carthage, senior. The passage in 
the Life of St. Brigid, to which Colgan refers, is very 
interesting. It is as follows": — "Now, Brendan came 
to Brigid to know why the monster of the sea had given 
honour to Brigid beyond the other saints* So, when 
Brendan reached Brigid, he asked her to confess in what 
degree she had the love of God. Said Brigid : " Make 
thou, Cleric, thy confession first, and I will make mine 
thereafter." Said Brendan : " From the day I entered 
upon a devout life I never went over seven farrows 
without my mind being on God." " Good is the confes- 
sion," said Brigid. "Do thou now, Nun," said Brendan, 
" make thy confession." " The Son of the Virgin 
knoweth," said Brigid, " from the hour I set my mind 
on God, I never took it from Him for a moment." 
" It seems to us, Nun," said Brendan, " that the 
monsters of the sea are right, when they give honour to 

•Acta SS. /ytterm«,page v ft\. 

86 Brendaniana. 

thee, beyond us." This story is given more at length 
in the Latin Life*— where the conflict of those monsters 
of the sea is described, and where it is told that one of 
them, beingpursned by the other to imminent destruction, 
invoked St. Brendan and St. Patrick to defend it, but 
in vain, and at last commended itself to the protection 
of St. Brigid, when the monster, that was about to 
destroy it, at once ceased the pursuit, and its intended 
victim escaped unharmed. In this account in the Latin 
Idfe, St. Brigid closes her reply to St. Brendan, with 
the words : " The more one fixes the mind upon God 
and loves Him, so much the more do the beasts fear him. " 
If this story be more than a pious allegory, and if an 
interview, such as this, really occurred between St. 
Brigid and St. Brendan, after his Atlantic voyage, this 
voyage must have been accomplished before the year 
524, when St. Brigid died, and before St. Brendan had 
attained the fortieth year of his age, a period of life cer- 
tainly most suitable for undertaking such an enterprise. 
Though the Irish Life does not refer to St. Brendan's 
visit to St. Enda before his first Atlantic voyage, it 
mentions the visit he made to " Aran, the place wherein 
Enda dwelt," and where " he remained for the space of 
a month" before proceeding on his second voyage " in 
those wooden vessels," which he built by the advice of 
St. Ita, who told him " he would never find the land he 
was seeking from God in vessels made of dead stained 
skins, for it is a holy consecrated land, and men's blood 
hath never been shed therein;" but that he would find 
that land later on, in vessels built of wood. And when 
* Vita Six. Brendani,.c. xro. 

Notes on the Irish Life. 87 

a large wonderful vessel was fitted out, he embarked 
with sixty men, " who were all praising the Lord, and 
their minds were towards God." 

It would appear from this narrative that the vessels 
in which he sailed on his first great voyage, which 
probably lasted five years, without accomplishing his 
purpose of reaching "the land of promise of the saints " 
were built in the style of currachs, covered with tanned 
hides, as was usual for such craft ; and though they 
were, as the Irish text states, " longa mora " (large 
vessels), yet the crews in each could scarcely have been 
more than twenty in vessels of that quality. 

25. The Irish text of this strophe is obscure, and 
Dr. W. Stokes does not translate some of the words. I 
give the translation partly from the Notes on the Life of 
St Brendan, referred to above ; and from my own 
study of the words, I think I have fairly made out the 

26. This reference to " five years upon the ocean," I 
believe implies that the first voyage lasted only that 
length of time, and that the voyage made in the great 
and well-appointed wooden vessels, which brought 
St. Brendan to the " land of promise of the saints, V 
lasted two years, thus completing the traditional seven 
years devoted to the high and holy purpose. Hence, in 
the Irish version of the two voyages, we are told at the 
close of the narrative, that " then they reached the land 
which they had been seeking for the space of seven 
years, even the Land of Promise." 

The Navigatio, which details the incidents of IVa 
seven years' voyage more fully tt\ant\ie\Tv^i ^«ti\ss^ % 

88 Brendaniana. 

has no reference to the saint's return to Ireland, and his 
preparations for a second yoyage, within those seven 

27. — The Back of the Whalb. 

This famous story of the great "Sea- whale" 
famishing a secure and convenient place for the cele- 
bration of Easter, by St. Brendan and his brethren, 
daring the seven years of their voyaging, is found in all 
the versions of the voyage that have appeared, whether 
in early Irish or in Latin, or in any mediaeval or modern 
language, of which copies remain. It must have been 
well and widely known as a remarkable incident in the 
traditional history of the voyages of the saint, as early 
as the time of St. Cuimin of Connor, who employs it 
to illustrate the special characteristic virtue of St. 
Brendan, in the strophe, quoted from his Characteristics 
of Irish Saints, in our Irish text. St. Cuimin of Connor 
flourished, according to Colgan, about the year 656 ; that 
is, less than 100 years after the death of St. Brendan, 
when the traditions of his story must have been some- 
what vivid. 

It is a curiojis fact that in all the other tales and 
legends that have come down to us of early Irish 
•• Imramha/ or voyages, such as that of the " Sons of 
O'Corra," or that of " Maelduin," which have, in many 
respects, a great affinity with the " Voyage of Brendan," 
and embody some of its incidents almost verbatim, we 
find not the slightest trace of this wonderful story of the 
lie forming an island. The tale appears, it is true, 
bemedmval Life of St. Machutus, ox &t. Ualo y by 

Notes on the Irish Life. 89 

Bili, who attributes the celebrations on the whale's 
back to his patron, St. Malo, and gives only a secondary 
place therein to our St. Brendan ; but this Life seems 
to be only a Breton version of our Irish voyage of St. 
Brendan, with the principal incidents therein slightly 
altered and thinly disguised; for instance, the wonderful 
sea-maiden whom Brendan restored to life and baptized, 
figures in Bili's Life of St. Malo as the more wonderful 
giant, Mildu, of dimensions even greater than those of 
the sea-maiden, whom St. Machutus restored to life 
likewise, and baptized in due form. 

It may be interesting to give the passage in Bili's 
Life of St. Malo, touching the whale incident : — " When 
a rising wind had drifted their boat from its moorings, 
and they were sailing about until the morning of Easter 
Sunday, after sun-rise, near the hour of tierce, as the 
crew desired to go to prayer, the master requested 
St. Machut to sing the Mass on that day, but he excused 
himself, because there was no suitable place to celebrate ; 
and behold, there came into view suddenly a small 
island, towards which they proceeded in all haste. 
Casting anchor, and disembarking thereon, they began 
to celebrate, St. Machutus singing the Mass. At the 
Agnus Dei, the ground on which they were was suddenly 
moved, and all who were hearing Mass there, cried out 
in great alarm : ' Oh ! Brendan, we are being swallowed 
into the sea ! ' Then, the master said : ' Holy Machut, 
the demon (dusmus, in mediaeval Latin) has put on this 
shape, in order to draw many to destruction.' Where- 
upon, St. Machut fearlessly spoke : ' Master, have you 
not preached to many, in my pra&iicfe,\^»^*''ifa3&fe v 

90 Brendaniana. 

through the will of God, became once upon a time the 
living sepulchre of Jonas, the Prophet, when he refused 
to go to Nineveh? Here now, in like manner, is this 
whale provided as a helper for us by God.' Then 
ordering them all into the boat, he finished the Mass ; 
and, as the whale submissively remained steady 
under him, he leisurely went into the boat after the 

It has been said that this extraordinary story, as it 
is found in the Voyage of St. Brendan, or in that of 
his disciple, St. Machut, has been borrowed from the 
account of the adventures of Sinbad the Sailor, in the 
Arabian Nights 9 Entertainment, and was thence intro- 
duced into the Brendan legend ; but it cannot be shown 
that those Arabian tales "were known in Ireland, or could 
have been used in that manner so early as the middle of 
the seventh century, when St. Cuimin of Connor com- 
posed his poem on the Characteristics of Irish Saints, 
in which he commended St. Brendan's " severe mode 
of mortification for seven years on the whale's back." 
It is certainly much more probable that the whale was 
known to our Irish mariners, many of whom, from the 
earliest times, sailed the Northern Seas, the habitat of 
the " great beast," sooner and better than to the Arabians 
or other Oriental peoples, in whose seas the whale seldom 
or never appeared ; and that the curious tale travelled 
from the West to the East, and found its way from 
Ireland into the Arabian Nights, where it figures in the 
adventures of Sinbad the Sailor. 

From whatever source the story originally sprung, it 
is worthy of note that it had got very generally a firm 

Notes on the Irish Life. 91 

hold on popular credence, not only in the East, but all 
over Europe, in mediaeval times ; for in all those curious 
books called " Bestiaries," or " Treatises on the natural 
history of animals, with spiritual meanings attached," 
that were in general use in the middle ages, this legend 
of the whale serving as an island on certain occasions, 
holds a prominent place. In one of those " Bestiaries," 
we read : " The whale is a great monster that dwells in 
the ocean. It covers its back with sea-sand, and raising 
itself out of the water, remains motionless, so that 
sailors mistake it for an island : — 

And they fasten the high-prowed ships, 

To that false land with anchor ropes ; 

On that island they waken flame, 

And a high fire kindle. 

Then the whale, feeling the heat, 

Makes sudden plunge into the salt wave, 

And with the bark down goes the ocean's guest." 

The " Bestiary " then gives the " moral," or " spiritual 
meaning " of this." " The whale signifies the devil ; the 
sands are the riches of this world ; the ship is the body 
that should be guided by the soul, acting as steersman ; 
and the sea is the world. When we put our trust most 
in the pleasures of this life, and think we are quite safe, 
suddenly, without any warning, the devil drags us down 
to hell." • 

A sound and excellent " moral," no doubt — one that 
must have been often happily applied by moralists in 
the middle ages. Later on we find the legend used by 

See Medieval Bestiaries. A Lecture^ 3 .'taraHftg K&we^ S>.K. 

92 Brendaniana. 

Milton, in Paradise Lost, when he compares Satan in 

his huge and massive bulk : — 

... to that sea-beast 
Leviathan, whom God of all His works 
Created hugest that swim the ocean stream ; 
Him, haply, slumbering on the Norway foam, 
The pilot of some small night-founder'd skiff, 
Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell, 
With fixdd anchor in his scaly rind, 
Moors by his side. 

In those moral or poetical applications of the wonder- 
ful story, where the whale is supposed to typify or 
represent the demon, the spirit of the tale in the 
Brendan legend is entirely changed ; for in this, the 
great " sea-beast," far from showing any diabolical 
proclivities, co-operates, with great regularity, in the 
celebration of the Paschal festival, year after year, for 
seven years, and, in obedience to the servants of God, 
remains, with marvellous steadiness, "like a green 
sward evenly smooth," until each year's celebration had 
come to a satisfactory close, and then, " at once plunges 
into the sea," as the Irish Life narrates. Here, the 
" spiritual meaning " is evidently quite different from 
the " moral" deduced from the story in the mediaeval 
" Bestiaries." But how did this " Mariner s tale" first 
take its rise, ancl why was it embodied in, and so fully 
identified with, the Brendan legend as almost to form its 
characteristic feature, while there is no trace of it in our 
other early Irish legends of the sea? Towards the 
solution of the question I venture a conjecture which 
^ill be taken at its worth. 
It is generally held by those who are most familiar 
ith the versions of the Brendan \o^ga& in various 

Notes on the Irish Life. 93 

languages, and who have written about them recently, 
that many of the incidents mentioned therein, and the 
descriptions of the islands visited in the course of the 
voyages, refer to, and were probably suggested by an 
acquaintance with, those islands on the Western Coasts 
of Ireland and Scotland, on which our early monks and 
. hermits sought refuge from the world, and where they 
built cells and oratories, that in many instances remain 
to the present day. In a very interesting paper, which 
appeared some time ago in The Irish Ecclesiastical 
'Record, on " Ardoilean," an island on the Galway Coast, 
the learned writer, Dr. Healy, suggests that this 
" island shrine" may have been the original of that " very 
high and rocky island" (insula valde saxosa et alta) which 
St. Brendan is stated, in the Navigation to have dis- 
covered first in his wanderings. So, with regard to 
the " Island of Sheep," the " Paradise of Birds," the 
"Island of St. Paul the hermit," and other islands 
described in the Navigation modern German writers 
wh6 have written largely and learnedly about our 
Brendan legend, have identified them with well- 
known islands on the coasts of Ireland or Scotland. 
There are many islands on our western coasts that may 
well have suggested the incidents and imagery of the 
" Paradise of Birds," as given in the Latin version. On 
our Kerry coast there are at least two islands, which 
have been at all times true " paradises of birds" to the 
myriad fowl that congregate upon them, namely, the 
lesser Scellig and the Tearaght Eock in the Blasquet 
group. Here, the countless flocks of sea-fowl enjoyed an 
entire immunity from disturbance, and rested ^&&to.<&) 

94 Brendaniana. 

after their distant sea-flights, finding for themselves 
there a real paradise, " where the wicked cease from 
troubling, and the weary are at rest." The Tearaght, 
before the light-house was erected on it, " was the most 
remarkable resort of sea-fowl on our coast, for it was 
but rarely visited, except in the finest weather, being 
situated seven miles from the great Blasquet Island, 
surrounded by the heavy rolling seas of the Atlantic, 
and without any accessible approach or landing-place. 
Hence, on all points of the island are congregated 
myriads of fowl of many various kinds, and the ledges 
of the rock, up to the summit, present tiers of birds 
innumerable, in singular array, old and young, beside 
their nests. 1 ' Such is the account given of the island by 
a gentleman who visited it about forty years ago. 

Now, if this be true of the islands described in the 
Navigatio, or Latin version vi the voyage, we may well 
believe that the incidents and descriptions in the Irish 
version had a like origin, and that even the extraordinary 
story of the whale may have sprung from a similar 
source, and may have been suggested by a reference to 
one of our "island shrines." Among the Magharees 
group of islands is one named Ilaunamil, to the present 
day, and it is so named on the Ordnance Maps. This 
means the " island of the whale" (Miol-mor, in Irish), or 
Whale Island. Whence came this name? Local 
tradition tells not. Whether from the fact of a whale 
being stranded on, or caught near its shore, in some 
pre-historic time ; or, what is not improbable, from its 
curious shape, strangely like a whale, as may be seen 
on the maps, tapering towards its north-east point, 


Notes on the Irish Life. 95 

which may be called the " head of the whale," and 
again, sloping off towards the south-west, where we may 
suppose its tail to lie. At a point where the shoulder 
rounds off, there is a deep cavern on the face of the cliff, 
facing the Western Ocean, running into the island, 
nearly 300 ft. Into this the " league-long rollers" of 
Alantic rush with tremendous force, and are ejected to 
a great height from the mouth of the cavern. This is 
named on the map Coosatrim, which I take to mean 
the creek of the squirt, or spout (Sram, in Irish, having 
that sense) and this " spouting*' may have quickened 
the fancy of some primeval visitor to liken the island to, 
and to name it from, a spouting whale. 

There is no reason to doubt that the island had this 
name from the earliest times, and was known as such 
in St. Brendan's day. Now, it lies within a short dis- 
tance of Brandon Point and Brandon-hill, being the 
nearest island sanctuary to which the saint could resort 
from his oratory on the mountain, and it is very 
probable that he did often resort thither, on occasions 
when he sought deeper solitude than was possible for 
him in any of his monasteries or oratories on the main- 
land. He may have retired to this "whale's island," 
on some of the great festivals — such as Easter-tide — in 
order to give himself more entirely to God in solitude, 
as some of our great saints have done on such solemnities; 
and thus may have sprung up the wonderful tale of his 
celebrating Easter on the whale's back, which grew and 
" improved," as we may expect, from generation to 
generation, until it became the characteristic trait in the 
saint's traditional history. 

96 Brendaniana. 

Whatever may be thought of this account of the 
genesis of the extraordinary tale, a description of the 
' island, by a writer in the Kerry Magazine, who had 
often visited it many years ago, may be interesting : — 
" Haun-na-mill is an island of mountain limestone, 
surrounded by precipices, against which the sea is for 
ever breaking, or by ledges of rock, up which it rushes, 
and over which it seeths and foams. Chasms run into 
it, precipitous at the sides, but sloping at the ends ; in 
one place the sea breaks through an arch, and sinks and 
rises with the swell outside." This is the place known 
as Coosatrim, or the " creek of the spout," where the 
sea often rises to a great height. From the description 
of the precipices and chasms that surround the island 
on all sides, it will be seen that making a landing upon 
it was no easy task; hence, the writer describes his 
effort to land as follows : — " Take down the sail — there, 
that little nook, we can land there ; back a stroke, with 
the bow-oar, so, and now you stand at the bow ready 
for a chance, when that coming swell has spent its 
force upon the rock before it falls away. Now, in she 
goes ; steady, steady ! — ah, too late, you could not do 
it ; and she falls away, with the retiring waters, lest the 
advancing wave should dash her on the rocks. Here it 
comes, and breaks upon them, climbing up through 
crevices — now, again — well done! — Hasten up before 
the next wave comes on ; and so, one by one, we get 
ashore, and clamber up the cliffs." It would seem from 
this graphic account that it required no ordinary 
deftness in handling a boat to effect a landing on this 
island, almost as much as would be needful to secure 

Notes on the Irish Life. 97 

foothold on the back of a genuine whale ; and perhaps 
it was this difficulty of access that led to its being never 
permanently, or even temporarily, inhabited, from the 
remotest times, though it has an area of about thirty 
statute acres ; and though the soil is fairly good, there 
are little or no traces of cultivation : the description 
given of the " Whale Island" in the Navigation namely* 
that " there was no grass on the island, very little 
timber, and no sand on its shores,' ' is literally true of 
Ilaunamil, the whale island of the Magharees at the 
present day. 

28. — The Prayer of St. Brendan. 

In this Irish version of the "Voyage," the prayer 
uttered by Brendan, when in extreme danger, from 
" the deep, fierce currents, and the vast black whirlpools 
of the rough-maned ocean," when lashed to fury by 
viQlent tempests, is given very briefly: "It is enough f 
for you, mighty sea, to drown me alone, but suffer 
my people to escape." What a noble spirit of self- 
sacrifice, of heroic devotion, and anxious solicitude for 
the safety of his brethren, the companions of his voyage, 
do these few words bespeak, on the part of the saint, 
who seemed not to heed his own peril, while he pleaded 
earnestly for the safety of his companions. Such a 
prayer, so generous and so disinterested, surely deserved 
the success it obtained; for the "sea grew still, and 
the whirlpools at once subsided, and thenceforth harmed 
no one." 

This prayer of St. Brendan, during his voyage^ ha& 
been considerably enlarged by \&ta& TOtass&, *xA ^ 


98 Brendaniana. 

mediaeval times several forms of it were used in popular 
devotions in many countries of Europe, as well as in 
Ireland. A Latin version of one of those forms of the 
prayer was published for the first time, some years ago, 
by Cardinal Moran, in his Acta Sti. Brendani, of which 
MS. copies were found in the Sessorian Library, Rome, 
and in the monastery of St. Gall, in Switzerland. 
This Oratio Sti. Brendani, Cardinal Moran tells us, "is 
full of the deepest piety, and will be found to present a 
striking resemblance to the hymn of St. Colman, in the 
Liber Hymnorum and other prayers of our early Church." 

To the copy in the Sessorian Library was affixed a 
rubric signifying that " St. Brendan the monk, when 
seeking the land of promise for seven successive years, 
made this prayer from the Word of God, through St. 
Michael the Archangel, while he sailed over the seven 
seas. Whosoever will sing or recite it one hundred 
times, on his bended knees or prostrate on the ground, 
either for himself, or for a friend or relative, living or 
dead, shall obtain pardon of all his sins, and shall be 
saved from the pains of hell." 

This rubric most truly declares that the prayer was 
"made from the Word of God," for its petitions are 
mainly composed of extracts from and references to the 
text and history of the Old and New Testaments ; and 
in this respect it was worthy of being inspired even 
" through St. Michael the Archangel," as the rubric 
states. It commences with the invocation of the Holy 
Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ; then there are 
fourteen petitions : " Spare me a sinner," addressed to 
the "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God," in 

Notes on the Irish Life. 99 

honour of fourteen mysteries of His life, death, resurrec- 
tion and ascension, and of the descent of the Holy 
Ghost. A long and beautiful prayer to the adorable 
Trinity, invoked as the Almighty Creator, " Who, out 
of shapeless matter, formed all things and creatures in 
their proper forms and species," introduces seven 
petitions : " Deliver me, Lord," in honour of the 
special work of each of the seven days of creation, 
mentioned in some detail. Then come nine petitions: 
" Deliver me, Lord," in honour of the nine 
choirs of angels, named at some length in their 
various orders. The same petition: "Deliver me, 
Lord," is repeated forty-five times, in as 
many paragraphs, referring to facts and persons 
recorded in all the Books of the Old Testament, in some 
instances pretty fully, appealing for deliverance, in the 
first place, through the " blood of the righteous Abel, 
the first priest and martyr;" and lastly, " through the 
martyrdom of the seven Machabees, who, with their 
mother freely chose to be martyrs." Again, the same 
petition is addressed thirty times to the Lord, in as 
many paragraphs, referring to the miracles and wonder- 
ful deliverances recorded in the Books of the New 
Testament, from " the deliverance of the prophet 
Zachary from his dumbness, and of St. Elizabeth from 
barrenness," to many of the miraculous deliverances 
recounted in the history of St. Paul. 

This portion of the prayer closes with a fervent and 
eloquent address to the Holy Trinity, to deliver him 
at all times from an evil death, and during h\& Vfts^tasta. 
every stain of soul and body ; and to \ifctffc T&stfrj otl^O&a 

100 - Brendaniana. 

souls of his father and mother, his brothers and sisters, 
his relatives, his friends and his enemies, and all his 
benefactors, living and dead, especially those for whom 
he may have promised to pray. 

The next portion is addressed directly to the saints 
and angels, beginning with: "Holy Mary, Mother of 
God," and then invoking the nine' orders of angels — 
naming St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Eaphael ; then 
St. John the Baptist, the twelve Apostles, and the 
Evangelists by name. A special prayer again to " Holy 
Mary, Mother of God, most chaste and most compas- 
sionate Virgin," asking her intercession " for him her 
unworthy servant ; " then the mysteries of the life and 
death of Christ are briefly recited in a form not unlike 
that of the Anima Christi of St. Ignatius of Loyola 
to " defend me from the snares of the crafty enemy." 
Various classes and orders of saints are then invoked, 
that they may all prove a shield and safeguard before 
the Most Holy Trinity, for his soul ; and for his body 
also, " from the soles of his feet to the crown of his 
head ; " and the prayer concludes with a series of twenty 
petitions, full of unction and piety, addressed to the 
Persons of the adorable Trinity, for his deliverance from 
all manner of evil and misfortune, spiritual and temporal. 
Here is one of them: "I beseech the Father,' through 
the Son; I beseech the Son, through the Father; I 
beseech the Holy Spirit, through the Father and the 
Son, and through every creature that praiseth the 
Lord, that all vice may be removed far from me, and 
that every saintly virtue may take root in my heart and 
soul. ' 

Notes on the Irish Life. 101 

This " Oratio " occupies nearly eighteen large octavo 
pages in the Acta Sti. Brendani, so that the reciting of 
the whole, with due attention and devotion, would take 
some time, and the repetition of it, as the rubric pre- 
scribes, for " one hundred times, on bended knees or 
prostrate on the ground," would be a devotional exercise, 
involving no small labour, and well calculated to excite 
those salutary dispositions necessary to obtain the 
promised remission of sin, and freedom from the punish-' 
ments due to it. It breathes throughout a spirit of the 
most fervent piety, and of an intimate and reverential 
knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, from Genesis to 
lievelations. In this respect it may compare favourably 
with many forms of prayer that are in popular use in 
latter times, which are not remarkable either for piety 
or knowledge, and not much to be recommended, as a 
competent authority has declared, " for either senti- 
ment or expression.* Certainly our ancestors in the 
faith, during past ages, who were familiar with such 
forms of popular devotion as this Oratio Sti. Brendani, 
and other beautiful prayers of our early Irish Church, 
so full of sound knowledge as well as sincere piety, were 
better able to comply with the advice of the Psalmist — 
to pray as well as " to sing wisely " in their devotions — 
than the faithful who use certain prayer-manuals in 
modern times. 

The latest version of the prayer of St. Brendan that 
I am acquainted with, is the poetical one given by the 
late Denis F. McCarthy, in his poem of the " Voyage 
of St. Brendan," from which I have already taken 
some extracts. It is well known \!hs& \tafe \»fe\» V*^ ^ 

102 Brendaniana. 

tender devotion to the saint, and that his beautiful 
poem in his honour was the fruit of this devotion, and 
that it was to him truly " a labour of love." His" 
rendering of the prayer is worthy of this tender piety, 
and not at all unworthy of his poetic genius. With the 
stanzas comprising it, I will conclude these notes on 
the Betha Brcnainn. 

The Prayer. 
We were alone on the wide watery waste — 
Nought broke its bright monotony of blue, 
Save where the breeze the flying billows chased, 

Or where the clouds their purple shadows threw. 
We were alone — the pilgrims of the sea — 

One boundless azure desert round us spread ; 
No hope, no trust, no strength, except in Thee, 
Father, who once the pilgrim-people led. 

And when the bright-faced sun resigned his throne 

Unto the Ethiop Queen who rules the night, 
Who, with her pearly crown and starry zone, 

Fills the dark dome of heaven with silvery light — 
As on we sailed, beneath her milder sway, 

And felt within our hearts her holier power, 
We ceased from toil, and humbly knelt to pray 

And hailed with vesper hymns the tranquil hour ! 

We breathed aloud the Christian's filial prayer, 

Which makes us brothers even with the Lord ; 
Our Father, cried we, in the midnight air, 

In heaven and earth, be Thy great name adored ; 
May Thy bright kingdom, where the angels are, 

Replace this fleeting world, so dark and dim. 
And then, with eyes fixed on some glorious star, 

We sang the Virgin-Mother's vesper hymn ! 

Hail, brightest star ! that o'er life's .troubled sea 
Shines pitying down from heaven's elysian blue ! 

Mother and maid, we fondly look to thee, 
Fair gate of bliss, where heaven beams brightly through. 

Star of the morning ! guide our youthful days, • 

Shine on our infant steps in life's long race ; 

Star of the evening ! with thy tranquil rays, 
Gladden the aged eyes that seek tta>} tarn. 

Notes on the Irish Life. 103 

Hail, sacred maid ! thou brighter, better Eve, 

Take from our eyes the blinding scales of sin ; 
Within our hearts no selfish poison leave, 

For thou the heavenly antidote can'st win. 
O sacred Mother ! 'tis to thee we run — 

Poor children, from this world's oppressive strife ; 
Ask all we need from thy immortal Son, 

Who drank of death, that we might taste of life. 

Hail, spotless Virgin ! mildest, meekest maid ! 

Hail, purest Pearl that time's great sea hath borne I 
May our white souls, in purity arrayed, 

Shine, as if they thy vestal robes had worn ; 
Make our hearts pure, as thou thyself art pure ; 

Make safe the rugged pathway of our lives ; 
And make us pass to joys that will endure 

When the dark term of mortal life arrives. 

'Twas thus in hymns and prayers and holy psalms, 
Day tracking day, and night succeeding night, 

Now driven by tempests, now delayed by calms, 
Along the sea ws winged our varied flight. 



The earliest version of the " Voyage " that has come 
down to us is undoubtedly that contained in the Betha 
Brenainn, as we fiud it in the Book of Lismore, and 
other MSS. I have already given the commencement 
of this, as far as the beautiful prayer, whereby Brendan 
hushed the storm-lashed ocean and saved his companions 
from all hurt. Then it goes on to tell that on a certain 
day the demon appeared in " awful, hideous form " on 
the sail of Brendan's vessel, visible only to the saint, 
who asked him why he had come there before his 
proper time. Satan answered that he sought his hell 
in the gloomy abysses of the dark sea. He was then 
permitted to reveal to Brendan " the gate of hell ;" and 
a lengthened description is given of the horrors and 
terrors of that place of torments, in terms that show 
the wonderful copiousness of the Irish language. . The 
brethren asked Brendan with whom he conversed ; he 
told them, and related some of the awful torments he 
had witnessed. Thereupon one of the brethren desired 
through curiosity to behold some of those torments. 
On being permitted, he was seized with terror, crying 
out : " Woe, woe, woe, to him who may come into that 
prison," and died immediately, but was at once restored 
to life by the prayers of Brendan. 


The Voyage of St. Brendan. 105 

Another day they found a beautiful flaxen-haired 
maiden, " whiter than the snow, or the foam of the 
sea," but of a preternatural size. She was dead, being 
pierced through the body with a spear. Brendan 
restored her to life, and ascertaining from her that 
" she was of the dwellers in the sea, who pray and 
expect their resurrection," he gave her baptism. Then 
he asked her whether she preferred to go at once to 
heaven or return to her people. "To heaven," she 
said in language that Brendan alone understood, " for 
I hear the voices of the angels praising the mighty 
^Lord." After receiving the holy Viaticum she breathed 
forth her spirit and received Christian burial there. 

•Soon after they came to an island beautiful and lofty, 
but could find no landing-place, though they searched 
for twelve days. They saw a splendid church upon it, 
and they heard the chanting of men who were praising 
the Lord therein, but the voices only lulled them all 
to sleep. At length a waxed tablet was cast down to 
them, inscribed with the words : " Waste no more time 
or toil in seeking to enter this island, for you cannot 
come in, but the island you are in quest of, you will 
find elsewhere." They turn away from the island, 
taking with them reverently the waxed tablet, in 
remembrance of the visit. 

On another occasion the crew were tormented with 
a great thirst, and they discovered a stream of limpid 
water gushing from a rock, from which they desired to 
drink. " First bless it," said Brendan, " that you may 
test its quality." Then Brendan pronounced a blessing, 
and instantly the stream dried \x\>, sa\& \taa ^sri^. 

106 Brendaniana. 

appeared, mocking their thirst, which, however, at once 
left them. 

The version then relates the return of Brendan and 
his brethren again to their own country, after their five 
years' voyaging, and the cordial welcome they received 
everywhere from their people, especially St. Brendan, 
who is said to have then " performed many miracles, 
healing the sick and expelling demons and vices." After 
some stay at home, he visits his foster-mother St. Ita, 
who, after an affectionate greeting, reminds him that 
he had not taken counsel with her about his voyage, 
and assures him that he could not find the " Land of 
Promise " in vessels made of the ^kins of dead beasts — 
but in wooden vessels, properly constructed for his 
voyage. Thereupon Brendan proceeded to Connaught, 
where a large and commodious ship was built and 
provided with the needful equipment for a voyage. 
Then he embarked, having a crew of sixty men, among 
whom were the shipwright and the smith, who had 
worked at the construction of the ship. A man called 
"Crosan," which Dr. W. Stokes translates " Buffoon ," 
besought Brendan, on his knees, that he might go 
with him, and he was admitted into the ship at the last 
moment. Then they sailed forth into the ocean, calling 
first to Aran, where St. Enda dwelt ; and here they stay 
for the space of a month. Proceeding on their voyage 
westwards, they soon reached a large, lofty, beautiful 
island, on the shore of which they saw a great number 
of sea-cats, which threatened to devour them. To save 
the rest of the crew from destruction, the Crosan 
consented to sacrifice himself, and having received the 

Tlie Voyage of St. Brendan. 107 

last sacraments, leaps ashore with joy, and is instantly 
devoured by those monsters ; thus, as the text ha& it, 
" the notoriously sinful man, who came last into the 
ship, should be chosen the first to go to heaven ... 
in illustration of the words of Christ. ' The first 
shall be last, and the last first. 1 " Soon after the smith 
falls grievously ill and likely to die. Brendan asked 
him whether he preferred a longer life to an immediate 
admission into heaven. The smith declares that " he 
has heard the voice of the Lord calling him," and 
therefore choses to go to heaven at once. After receiving 
the Viaticum he dies, and is buried in the sea, as no 
land was near; where his body, wonderful to relate, lay 
peaceably, without sinking or moving in any direction. 

Soon after they come to a small island, but they are 
met at the landing-place by a crowd of demons, like 
coal-black pigmies, who opposed their landing. These 
they will not combat* according to Brendan's advice, 
and after some delay they wished to weigh anchor and 
depart ; but their anchor got so firmly fixed in the 
rocks, they could not hoist it up, and were obliged to 
sail on without it. This was a serious embarrassment, 
for the smith who could forge a new anchor was dead ; 
but Brendan desired a priest in the company " to do 
smith's work for a month :" and he blessed his hands for 
the purpose, so that in a short time he supplied an 
anchor of excellent workmanship. 

They sailed on still westwards, and they reach a 
small but beautiful island, with its many bays well 
supplied with fish. Here they see a church built 
of stone, and an ancient penitent \)>tw]V&% Htastsssxi 


without flesh or blood, and only the skin, like shrivelled 
leather, on his bones." He warns them of their danger 
from the attack of a monstrous sea-cat that was on the 
island, and they sail quickly away, pursued by the 
monster. The rest of this story can be found in the 
Legend of the Three Students who went on a Pilgrim- 

This venerable hermit had revealed to Brendan the 
land he was seeking, even the Land of Promise ; and 
soon afterwards, when the term of seven years had 
expired, the saint at last attained the object of his 
desires, and happily reached the earthly paradise. Here, 
while he and his companions search for a landing- 
place, they hear the voice of a venerable old man, who 
invited them to land, and to rest now from their toil- 
some quest, and enter upon and enjoy those " happy 
plains of paradise, and the delightful fields of this 
" radiant land." Then follows an eloquent description 
of the beauties and delights of this Island of the 
Blessed, which closes with a declaration from the 
ancient dweller therein that : " Happy is he who 
through his well-deservings and good works merits, in 
union with Brendan, son of Finlug, to inhabit fox ever 
this island whereon we stand." 

Here the narrative breaks off abruptly, and the 
Irish text concludes with a long passage from the 
Fis Adliamhnan (Vision of Adamnan), which has no 
relevance with the Voyage of Brendan. 

This is a brief but accurate outline of the Irish 
version of the Voyage, from which it will be seen that 
the incidents of the story, as told therein, are few and 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. 109 

baldly related, while the structure of the tale is rather 
disjointed and fragmentary, seemingly made up of 
scraps and fragments from two or more earlier versions 
in Irish that have been lost. It differs considerably in 
those respects from the Latin version (the Navigation of 
which I will now give a literal and complete translation 
into our modern English, the first of its^ kind that has 
been published. In this version the incidents related 
are numerous and consecutive, are told more circum- 
stantially, and the current of the story runs on 
smoothly to the end. This was the most popular 
version during the Middle Ages, as the story itself was 
certainly the most popular of all the mediaeval legends of 
which we have any account. Hence there is scarcely 
a public library in Europe that does not contain some 
MS. copies of it, and in one library, the Bibliotheque 
Royale, Paris, there are no less than eleven MS. copies, 
some of them written in the eleventh dentury; one 
MS. copy in the Vatican library, which Cardinal Moran 
consulted in preparing his edition of the Navigatio in 
his Acta Sti. Brendani, is referred by a competent 
judge to the ninth century. From this Latin version 
sprung many of the versions into early German, early 
French, and other languages. One of those composed 
in the Roman z language by an Anglo-Norman trouvere, 
" who wonned in the English court of King Henry 
Beauclerc, and basked in the smiles of his queen," the 
beautiful Adelais of Louvain, was translated from the 
Latin, and addressed to the "Lady Adelais," or " Auliz," 
about the year 1121. There is a learned and interest- 
ing paper upon this in the ma&bet oi Bla<&N&oo& % 

110 Brendaniana. 

Magazine for June, 1836, in which the writer* gives a 
spirited translation from the " Romanz " into racy, if 
somewhat quaint, English, of many passages of this 
" Voyage of St. Brendan," commencing thus: — 

Lady Adelais, who queen 
By the grace of heaven hath been 
Ycrowned, who this land hath blest 
With peace and wholesome laws, and rest, 
Both by King Henry's stalwart might 
And by thy counsels mild and right — 
. For these, thy holy benison 
May the Apostles shed each one 
A thousand, thousand-fold upon thee ; 
And, since thy mild command hath won me 
To turn this goodly historie 
Into romanz, and carefully 
To write it out, and soothly tell 
What to St. Brandan erst befel — 
At thy comand I undertake 
The task right gladly, but will make 
No light or silly pleasantrie 
Unfit in such grave work to be. 

I will, in my translation, follow the division into 
chapters, and the headings thereof, as marked off in 
Cardinal Moran's edition, and at the end of certain 
chapters I will append the corresponding translated 
passages from Blackwood's Anglo-Norman Trouveres — 
as well as certain poems of modern English poets, who 
have treated in verse some incidents of our " goodly 
historie.' ' 

* I have tried to ascertain from Messrs. Blackwood, who kindly gave 
me permission to use this paper, the name of the writer, but they could 
not tell me. 



St. Brendan is stimulated by the example of 
St. Barinthus to seek the Land op Promise. 

St. Brendan, son of Finnlug Ua Alta, of the race of 
Eoghan, was born in the marshy district of Munster* 
He was famed for his great abstinence and his 
many virtues, and was the patriarch of nearly three 
thousand monks. While he was in his spiritual war- 
fare, at a place called Ardfert-Brendant there came 
to him one evening, a certain father, named Barinthus, 
of the race of King Nial, who, when questioned 
by St. Brendan, in frequent converse, could only 
weep, and cast himself prostrate, and continue the 
longer in prayer ; but Brendan raising him up, em- 
braced him, saying: " Father, why should we be thus 
grieved on the occasion of your visit ? Have you not 
come to give us comfort ? You ought, indeed, make 
better cheer for the brethren. In God's name, make 
known to us the divine secrets, and refresh our souls 
by recounting to us the various wonders you have seen 
upon the great ocean." Then Barinthus, in reply, 
proceeds^ to tell of a certain island: "My dear child, 

* Oiarriaghe Luachra. 

T " Salfcus Virtutis Brendani," Va «om& oi VJaa texte. 

112 Brendaniana. 

I Memoc, the guardian of the poor of Christ, had fled 
\ away from me to become a solitary, and found, nigh unto 
the Stone mountain, an island full of delights. After some 
time I learned that he had many monks there in his 
charge, and that God had worked through him many 
marvels. I, therefore, went to visit him, and when I 
had approached within three days' journey, he, with 
some of the brethren, came out to meet me, for God 
had revealed to him my advent. As we sailed unto 
the island the brethren came forth from their cells 
towards us, like a swarm of bees, for they dwelt apart 
from each other, though their intercourse was of one 
accord, well grounded in faith, Iwpe, and charity; one 
refectory ; one church for all, wherein to discharge the 
divine offices. No food was served but fruits and nuts, 
roots and vegetables of other kinds. The brethren, 
after complin, passed the night in their respective cells 

. until the cock crew, or the bell tolled for prayer. 

/ When my dear son and I had traversed the island, he 
led me to the western shore, where there was a small 
boat, and he then said : " Father, enter this boat, and 
we will sail on to the west, towards the island called 
the Land of Promise of the Saints, which God will 
grant to those who succeed us in the latter days." 
When we entered the boat and set sail, clouds over- 
shadowed us .on every side, so dense that we could 
scarcely see the prow or the stern of the boat. After 
the lapse of an hour or so, a great light shone around 
us, and land appeared, spacious and grassy, and bearing 
all manner of fqiits.y And when the boat touched the 
shore, we landed, and walked round about the island for 



The Voyage of St. Brendan. 113 

fifteen days, yet could not reach the limits thereof. 
No plant saw we there without its flower; no tree 
without its fruit ; and all the stones thereon were pre- 
cious gems. But on the fifteenth day we discovered *a 
river flowing from the west towards the east, when, 
being at a loss what to do, though we wished to cross 
over the river, we awaited the direction of the Lord. 
While we thus considered the matter, there appeared 
suddenly before us a certain man, shining with a great 
light, who, calling us by our names, addressed us thus : 
" Welcome, worthy brothers, for the Lord has revealed 
to you the land He will grant unto His saints. There is 
one-half of the island up to this river, which you are not 
permitted to pass over ; return, therefore, whence you 

When he had ceased to speak, we asked him his 
name, and whence he had come. But he said : "Why 
do you ask these questions ? Should you not rather 
inquire about this island. Such as you see it now, so 
has it continued from the beginning of the world. Do 
you now need food or drink ? Have you been weighed 
down by sleep, or shrouded in the darkness of the 
night ? Know then for certain that here it is for ever 
day, without a shadow of darkness, ior the Lord Jesus 
Christ is the light thereof, and if men had not trans- 
gressed the commandment of God, in this land of 
delights would they have always dwelt." 

Hearing thi3 we were moved to tears, and having 
rested awhile, we set out on our return journey, the 
man aforesaid accompanying us to the shore, where our 
boat was moored. When we had entet^ ft&\tti&^&&& 

114 BretidanianA. 

man was taken from our sight, and we went on into the 
thick darkness we had passed through before, and thus 
unto the Island of delights. But when the brethren 
there saw us, they rejoiced with great joy at our return, 
as they had long bewailed our absence, and they said : 
" Why, fathers, did you leave us, your little flock, 
to stray without a shepherd in the wilderness? We 
knew, indeed, that our abbot frequently departed some- 
where from us, and remained away sometimes a month, 
sometimes a fortnight, or a week more or less." 
When I heard this I tried to console them, and said : 
" Brethren, harbour no thought of evil, for your lives 
here are certainly passed at the very portals of paradise. 
Not far away from you lies the island, called the * Land 
of Promise of the Saints,' where night never falls nor 
day closes ; thither your abbot, Mernoc, resorts, as the 
angels of God watch over it. Do you not know, by the 
fragrance of our garments, that we have been in the 
paradise of God?" They replied: "Yes, father, we 
knew well that you had been in the paradise of God, 
for we often found this fragrance from the garments of 
our abbot, which lingered about us for nearly forty 
days." I then told them that I had abided therein 
with my dear ton, for a fortnight, without food or drink; 
yet, so complete was our bodily refreshment, that we 
would seem to others to have been filled to repletion. 
When forty days had passed, having received the bless- 
ings of the abbot and the brethren, I came away with 
my companions, that I may return to my little cell to 
which I will go on to-morrow. 
Having heard all this, St. Brendan and his brethren 

TJie Voyage of St; Brendan. 115 

cast themselves on the ground, giving glory to God in 
these words : " Kighteous Thou art, Dord, in all Thy 
ways, and holy in all Thy works, who hast revealed to 
Thy children so many and so great wonders ; and blessed 
be Thou for Thy gifts, who hast this day refreshed us all 
with this spiritual repast." When these discourses 
were ended, St. Brendan said : " Let ijs now proceed 
to the refection of the body, and the " new command- 
ment." * The night having passed, St, Barinthus, 
receiving the blessing of the brethren, returned to his 
own cell. 

Note. — In the beginning of this chapter is given the 
earliest Latin translation that I have met of the name of 
Ardfcrt-Brendan, or Clonfert-Brendan, in the form " Saltus 
virtutis Brendani," as some of the earliest MSS. have it, or 
*• Saltus virtutum B.," as others give it. I translate this 
Ardfert-Brendan, for I believe the context points to that 
location of the scene of the story, while I am aware that 
" saltus " is curiously ambiguous, and may mean'a " clearance 
in a wood," or a •* wood-pasture " (in Irish, cluain), as well a 
" height or bluff " (in Irish Ard) in land or river ; and that 
therefore, the Latin may mean either Ardfert-Brendan or 
Clonfert-Brendan. The Latin word virtus, given by those 
early writers who must have been familiar with the ancient 
Gaelic, as an equivalent for the second part of the name, 
fcart> clearly indicates the true etymology of those names, 
for it shows that the word feart, or its earlier form firt, was 
simply borrowed from the Latin virtus, and had exactly 
the same meaning. Ardfert-Brendan does not, therefore, 
mean the " height of the grave " (fert in Irish), as some 
authorities have suggested, but the Ard or bluff of the 
•* virtue/' or the powers of St. Brendan ; that is, of the house 
or place where the virtues or spiritual powers of the saint 
, and his children were exercised, and which was the scene 
of many of his marvellous works. The name, when fully 

* t. e. the washing of the feet, as at \ta lo^^wpgac. 

116 Brendaniana. 

and correctly given, is Ardfert-Brendan, and this could not 
refer in any way to " the grave " of St. Brendan, which was 
certainly not at Ardfert, but, as all his Lives tell us, at 
Clonfert, where his remains were interred, and from which, 
asjar as we know, they were never translated. 
( The interesting story of the visit of Baruin, or as the 
/ name is Latinized, Barinthus, to St. Brendan, told so 
/ circumstantially and dramatically in this chapter of the 
! Navigation has no counterpart in any Irish version of the 
! Voyage of St. Brendan that has been as yet discovered ; nor 
1 is there, as far as I have heard, any trace of this very 
curious tale of the Voyage of St. Barinthus and his " dear 
son Mernoc " to the "Land of Promise cf the Saints." such 
as we find it detailed here, in any other account of such 
early voyages that has come down to us in ancient MSS. 
Whether the tale is purely legendary, fancifully devised to 
explain why St. Brendan "had set his heart" upon his 
ocean quest of this same " Land of Promise of the Saints," 
or whether there had been an old-world tradition of some 
voyage on the Atlantic by a real Father Baruin, which was 
dressed up in this form, as a preface to Brendan's Voyage, 
by some writer or reciter of that wonderful tale in later 
times, it is now, I suppose, impossible to determine. We 
know, indeed, that there existed a real Father Baruin, who 
was abbot of a monastery at Druimcuillen, on the borders 
of Munster and Leinster (now Drumcullen parish, King's 
County), and whose feast is noted in the Martyrology of 
Tallaght on the 3rd of May, and also on the 21st of that 
month ; but his period does not fit in with the date of such 
a tale as this visit to St. Brendan, which should be early in 
the sixth century ; whereas the abbot of Drumcullen is 
stated " to have flourished " at the end of that century, 
many years after St. Brendan's death. 

There is a very ancient church at Baruin, now Barrow, a 
few miles west from Ardfert, which is still called in Irish 
Teampul Baruin (Church of Barun). This old church, now 
a desolate ruin, with a few remains still existing, dates 
probably from the eleventh century, when the district 
around it may have been formed into a distinct parish, 
which was valued and taxed as a separate benefice, in the 
Taxation of Ardfert Diocese, in 1300, as " ecclesia de Barun " 
(Church of Barun or Barrow). From the appearance of the 



The Voyage of St. Brendan. 117 

site and the surroundings of this old church, we can infer 
that there had been a much earlier religious foundation at 
the place, which may have been, in fact, contemporaneous 
with St. Brendan's foundation of his monastery at Ardfert ; 
and here, at ancient Barun, may have stood the " little cell" 
(cellxda, in the Latin text) or oratory, to which, we are told, 
St. Barinthus returned on the close of his visit to his saintly 
brother at Ardfert. However this may be, the name still 
survives in the little church and district of Baruin, and it is 
not improbable that the founder of the oratory there, where 
he had the harbour beside Fenit, opening into the Atlantic, 
near at hand, was a sea-faring saint, like so many of the 
earliest founders of such oratories and monastic houses 
along the coast of Ireland, who may have made some 
voyages on the great ocean, and recounted his adventures 
thereon to his neighbours at the Ardfert Monastery, which 
he, no doubt, visited occasionally. Hence may have come 
the germ of this interesting legend of Baruin and Mernoc, 
as narrated in this chapter. ) 


St. Bbendan and his Companions set sail. 

St. Brendan soon after selected from his whole 
community fourteen monks [amongst whom was the 
youthful Machutus, so famous and worthy of God's 
favour, who had been chosen of God from his infancy, 
and who persevered to the end of his life in the 
divine praises, as anyone may know who reads his vene- 
rable Acts, wherein his early and latest renowned works 
are recorded]. 11 Taking these apart, the venerable 

* The words within brackets are found only in two lato MSS^ «auL 
are clearly an interpolation. 

118 Brendmiana. 

father Brendan retired with them into an oratory 
where he thus addressed them: — "Dearly beloved 
fellow-soldiers of mine, I request your advice and 
assistance, for my heart and mind are firmly set upon 
one desire ; if it be only God's holy will, I have in my 
heart resolved to go forth in quest of the Land of 
Promise of the Saints, about which Father Barinthus 
discoursed to us. What do you think ? What is your 
advice ? " But they, well knowing the purpose of their 
holy father, replied, as with one voice : — " Father-abbot, 
your will is our will also. Have we not forsaken our 
parents ? Have we not slighted our family prospects ? 
Have we not committed into your hands even our very j 
bodies? We are, therefore, ready to go with you, 
whether unto life or unto death, provided only we find 
such to be the will of God." 

St. Brendan and the chosen brethren then decided to 
make a fast of forty days, at three days' intervals,* and 
afterwards to take their departure. Those forty days 
having elapsed, St. Brendan, affectionately taking leave 
of his monks, and commending them to the special care 
- of the Prior of his monastery, who was afterwards his 
successor there, sailed forth towards the west, with 
fourteen brethren, to the island wherein dwelt St. Enda, 
and remained there three days and three nights. Having 
received the blessing of this holy father and all his monks, 
he proceeded to the remotest part of his own country 
^where his parents abode. However, he willed not tcr 
( visit them, but went up to the summit of the mountain t 

* t.*., taking food only every third day. 
t ffodie, Brandon-Hill. 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. 119 

there, which extends far into the ocean, on which 
is " St. Brendan's Seat ;" and there he fitted up a 
tent, near a narrow creek, where a boat could enter. 
Then St. Brendan and his companions, using iron 
implements, prepared a light vessel, with wicker sides 
and ribs, such as is usually made in that country, 
and covered it with cow-hide, tanned in oak-bark, 
tarring the joints thereof, and put on board provisions 
for forty days, with butter enough to dress hides 
for covering the boat and all utensils needed for the 
use of the crew. He then ordered the monks to 
embark, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, 
and of the Holy Ghost ; but while he stood on the 
shore and blessed the little creek, behold three more 
monks from his monastery came up, and cast themselves 
at his feet, saying: "0 dearest father, suffer us, for 
the love of Christ, to accompany you on vour voyage, 
otherwise we will die here of hunger and thirst, for we 
are resolved to travel with thee all the days of our 
lives." When the man of God saw their great 
urgency, he ordered them to embark, saying: "Have 
your will, my children ; " but adding : " I know well 
why you have come hither. One of you has acted well, 
for God had provided for him an excellent place; 
but for two others, He has appointed harm and 

St. Brendan then embarked, and they set sail towards 
the summer solstice. They had a fair wind, and therefore 
no labour, only to keep the sails properly set ; but after 
twelve days the wind fell to a dead calm, and they had 
to labour at the oars until tV\eAx ataex^gfti ^*& w^^^i 


120 Brendaniana. 

exhausted. Then St. Brendan would encourage and 
exhort them : " Pear not, brothers, for our God will be 
unto us a helper, a mariner, and a pilot ; take in the oars 
and helm, keep the sails set, and may God do unto 
us, His servants and His little vessel, as He willeth.' 
They took refreshment always in the evening, and 
sometimes a wind sprung up; but. they knew not 
from what point it blew, nor in what direction they 
were sailing. 


Their First Discovery of Land. 

At the end of forty days, when all their provisions 
were spent, there appeared towards the north, an island 
very rocky and steep. When they drew near it, they 
saw its cliffs upright like a wall, and many streams of 
water rushing down into the sea from the summit of the 
island ; but they could not discover a landing-place for 
the boat. Being sorely distressed with hunger and thirst, 
the brethren got some vessels in which to catch the 
water as it fell ; but St. Brendan cautioned them : 
" Brothers ! do not a foolish thing ; while God wills not ! 
to show us a landing-place, you would take this without / 
His permission; but after three days the Lord Jesus 
Christ will show His servants a secure harbour and, 
resting-place, where you may refresh your wearied 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. 

When they had sailed round the island for threv. 
days, they descried, on the third day, about the hour 
of none, a small cove, where the boat could enter; 
and St. Brendan forthwith arose and blessed this 
landing-place, where the rocks stood on every side, 
of wonderful steepness like a wall. When all had 
disembarked and stood upon the beach, St Brendan 
directed them to remove nothing from the boat, 
and then there appeared a dog, approaching from 
a bye-path, who came to fawn upon the saint, as 
dogs are wont to fawn upon their masters. "Has 
not the Lord," said St. Brendan, " sent us a goodly 
messenger ; let us follow him ; " and the brethren 
followed the dog, until they came to a large mansion, 
in which they found a spacious hall, laid out with couches 
and seats, and water for washing their feet. When 
they had taken some rest, St. Brendan warned them 
thus : " Beware lest Satan lead you into temptation, for 
I can see him urging one of the three monks, who 
followed after us from the monastery, to a wicked theft. 
Pray you for his soul, for his flesh is in Satan's 

The mansion where they abode had its walls hung 
around with vessels made of various metals, with bridle- 
bits and horns inlaid with silver. 

St. Brendan ordered the serving brother to produce* 
the meal which God had sent them ; and without delay 
the table was laid with napkins, and with white loaves 
and fish for each brother. When all had bee, . aid out, 
St. Brendan blessed the repast and the brethren : " Let 
us give praise to the God of heaven, ^ko^^^a ^*^ 


ot all His creatures/' Then the brethren partook of 
the repast, giving thanks to the Lord, and took likewise 
drink, as much as they pleased. The meal being 
finished, and the divine office discharged, St. Brendan 
said: "Go to your rest now; here you see couches 
well dressed for each of you ; and you need to rest 
those limbs overwearied by your labours during our 

When the brethren had gone to sleep, St. Brendan 
saw the demon, in the guise of a little black boy, at his 
work, having in his hands a bridle-bit, and beckoning 
to the monk before mentioned : then he rose from his 
couch, and remained all night in prayer. 

When morning came the brethren hastened to per- 
form the divine offices, and wishing to take to their 
boat again, they found the table laid for their meal, 
as on the previous day ; and so for three days and | 
nighfcs did God provide their repasts for His servants. 
Afterwards St. Brendan set out on his journey 
with the brethren, first cautioning them not to 
take away any property from the island. " God 
forbid," said they, " that any of us should dishonour 
our journey by theft ;" whereupon St. Brendan said : 
"Behold the brother of whom I spoke to you on 
yesterday has concealed in his bosom a silver bridle- 
bit which the devil gave him last night." When the 
brother in question heard this he cast away the 
bridle-bit out of his bosom, and fell at the feet of 
the saint, crying aloud : "0 father, I am guilty ; 
forgive me, and pray that my soul may not be lost ;" 
and all the brethren cast themselves on the ground 


The Voyage of St Brendan. 

earnestly beseeching the Lord for his soul's sake 
When they rose from the ground, and St. Brendan 
had raised up the guilty brother, they all saw a 
little black boy . leap out of his bosom, howling 
loudly : ".Why, man of God, do you expel me from 
my abode, where I have dwelt for seven years, and 
drive me away, as a stranger, from my secure posses- 
sion ? " Then St. Brendan said : " I command thee, in 
the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that thou injure no 
man until the day of judgment ;" and turning to the 
penitent brother, he told him to prepare without delay 
to receive the body and blood of the Lord, for that his 
soul would soon depart from his body, and that there 
would be his burial-place ; but that the other brother 
who accompanied him from the monastery would be 
buried in hell. Soon after the soul of the brother who 
received the Holy Viaticum departed this life, and was 
taken up to heaven \>y angels of light in the sight of 
his brethren, who gave him Christian burial in that 

St. Brendan and the brethren came to the shore 
where the boat lay, and embarked at once ; whereupon 
a young man presented himself to them, bearing a 
basket full of loaves of bread and a large bottle of 
water, and said : " Accept this blessing from your 
servant, for a long way lies before you ere you obtain 
the comfort you seek ; but this bread and water will 
not fail you from this day until Pentecost/' Under 
this blessing they sailed forth upon the ocean, 
partaking of food only every second day, while the 
boat was borne along in di\era &?&&&&&, xsx*^ 


>ne day they came within view of an island, not 
far off, towards which they sailed with a favourable 


Bight before them there, 

A noble castle, large and fair, 

Like kingly hall, most rich to see, 

Or emperor's palace — royally 

Within, without was it arrayed — 

The walls of hardest opal made, 

The palace marble, pure and bright 

(No wood was there), and dazzling light 

Of gems and gold shone gorgeously 

From the inlaid walls, and joyfully 

They entered, — but their marvelling 

WasJ;hat they found no living thing; 

Then to the topmost tower they hied, 

But human being ne'er espied. 

Now in the palace Brendan stood ; 

Then sate him down in wondering mood, 

Looking around, and then he said : 

" Brethren, for our support and aid, 

Seek ye if aught of food is here." 

They sought, and found with gladsome cheer 

Both food and drink most plentiful, 

And silver vessels beautiful 

As ere could be, and golden too, 

Fairer than aught that man could view ; 

With daintiest cheer the stores abound, 

Whate'er # they wished for, that they found ; 

So gladly sate they down to dine, 

But praising first that hand divine 

That led them hither o'er the sea, 

And prayed His mercy large and free. 

Anglo-Norman Trouvere. 

TJie Voyage of St. Brendan. 


They visit Sheep-Island, and celebrate the 
Easter Festival. 

When the boat touched a landing-place, the man of 
God ordered all to disembark, he being the last to leave 
the boat. In making a circuit of the island, they saw 
great streams of water flowing from many fountains, 
full of all kinds of fish. St. Brendan said to the 
brethren : " Let us here perform the divine office, and 
sacrifice unto, God the Lamb without spot, for this day 
is the festival of the Lord's Supper ;" and they remained 
there until Easter Saturday. 

In the island they found many flocks of sheep, all 
pure white, so numerous as to hide the face of the land. 
Then the saint directed the brethren to t&ke from the 
flocks what was needful for the festival; and they caught 
one sheep, which, being tied by the horns, followed at 
their heels, as if it were tame ; and he also told them to 
take one spotless lamb. When they had obeyed those 
orders, they prepared to celebrate the office of the next 
day ; and there came to them a man with a basket of 1 
hearth-cakes and other provisions, which he laid at the 
feet of the man of God, prostrating himself three times, 
and saying, with tears : " Oh, precious pearl of God, 
how have I deserved this, that thou shouldst take food 
at this holy season from the labour of my hands." 
St. Brendan, then raising him up from the ground, 
said : " My son, our Lord Jesw% Gfextafc Y*»& ^rkstoSk& 



for us a suitable place wherein to celebrate His holy 
resurrection ." 

Afterwards he proceeded to perform the " ministering 
to the servants of God,"* and to prepare what was need- 
ful for to-morrow's festival. When the supply of pro- 
visions was taken into the vessel, the man who brought 
them said to St. Brendan: "Your boat can carry no I 
more now, but after eight days I will send you food and I 
drink sufficient until Pentecost." Whereupon the man 
of God said to him : " How can you know for certain 
where we will be after eight days ?" and he replied : 
" This night you will spend on that island you see near 
you, and to-morrow also until noon ; then you will sail 
on to the island not far firom it towards the west, called 
the " Paradise of Birds," and there will you abide until 
the octave of Pentecost." 

St. Brendan asked him also why the sheep were so 
very large on that island, larger even than oxen ; and he 
told him that they were so much larger there than in 
the lands known to St. Brendan, because they were 
never milked, and felt not the stress of winter, having 
at all seasons abundant pasture. 

They then went on board their vessel, and having 
given and received parting blessings, they proceeded on 
their voyage. When they drew nigh to the nearest 
island, the boat stopped ere they reached a landing- 
place; and the saint ordered the brethren to get out into 
the sea, and make the vessel fast, stem and stem, until 
they came to some harbour ; there was no grass on the 

. * The " New Commandment " of the washing of their feet 

Tlie Voyage of St. Brendan. 

island, very little wood, and no sand on the shore. 
While the brethren spent the night in prayer outside 
the vessel, the saint remained in it, for he knew well 
what manner of island was this ; but he wished not to 
tell the brethren, lest they might be too much afraid. 
When morning dawned, he bade the priests to celebrate 
Mass, and after they had done so, and he himself had 
said Mass in the boat, the brethren took out some un- 
cooked meat and fish they had brought from the other 
island, and put a caldron on a fire to cook them. After 
they had placed more fuel on the fire, and the caldron 
began to boil, the island moved about like a wave; 
whereupon they all rushed towards the boat, and im- 
plored the protection of their father, who, taking each 
one by the hand, drew them all into the vessel ; then 
relinquishing what they had removed to the island, they, 
cast their boat loose, to sail away, when the island at 
once sunk into the ofcean. 

Afterwards they could see the fire they had kindled 

still burning more than two miles off, and then 

St. Brendan explained the occurrence : " Brethren, you 

wonder at what has happened to this island." " Yes, 

father," said they ; " we wondered, and were seized with 

a great fear." " Fear not, my children," said the saint, 

" for God has last night revealed to me the mystery of 

all this ; it was not an island you were upon, but a fish, 

the largest of all that swim in the ocean, which is ever 

' trying to make its head and tail meet, but cannot 

, succeed, because of its great length. Its name is 


When they had sailed beside ttxe \*\^tA^\nss«> H5bk% 


had already been, for three days, and reached the end 
thereof, they saw towards the west another island, not 
far off, across a narrow sound, which was very grassy, 
well-wooded, and fall of flowers ; and they bore away 
towards its landing-place. 

Then Brandan said : " Brothers know well 
Wherefore this strange mischance befel, 
No land was that but monstrous beast 
Whereon you sought to hold your feast. 
Nor marvel thus why this should be, 
Hugest of all are fish in sea, 
For they were formed by heaven's great King 
Before all other earthly thing." 

Anglo-Norman Trouvere. 


The Paradise of Birds. 

When they had sailed to the southern side of this 
island they found a rivulet flowing into the sea, and 
there they brought the boat to land. The saint ordered 
them to leave the boat, and tow it up against the stream, 
which was only wide enough for its passage ; and thus 
they towed it for a mile up to the source of the rivulet, 
the saint sitting on board the while. 

After some consideration, St. Brendan said to them : 
" Behold, my brothers, God has provided for us a suit- 
able place wherein to abide during the Paschal time ; 
and if we had no other provisions, this fountain would, 
I believe, serve for food as well as drink ;" for the 
fountain was, in truth, a very wonderful one. Over it 
hung a, large tree of marvellous width, but no great 


The Voyage of St Brendan. 129 

height, covered over with snow-white birds, so that they 
hid its boughs and leaves entirely. When the man of 
God saw this, he was considering with himself why this 
immense number of birds were thus brought together 
in one assemblage ; and the question grew so irksome 
to him that he with tears besought the Lord, on his 
bended knees, thus : u O God, who knowest what is 
unknown, and revealest what is hidden, Thouseest the 
anxious distress of my heart ; therefore I beseech Thee 
that Thou wouldst vouchsafe, in Thy great mercy, to 
reveal Thy secret in what I see here before me ; not 
for any desert of my own worthiness, but solely in 
regard to Thy clemency, do I presume to ask this 
favour." N 

Thereupon one of the birds flew off the tree, and in 
his flight his wings had a tinkling sound like little ' 
bells, over to the boat where the man of God was seated ; 
and, perching on the prow, it spread out its wings in 
token of gladness, and looked complacently towards 
St. Brendan. Then the man of God, understanding 
from this that his prayer was granted, addressed the 
bird : " If you are a messenger from God, tell me 
whence have those birds come, and why this concourse 
of them here ? " The bird at once made answer : " We 
are partakers in the great ruin of the ancient enemy, 
having fallen, not by sin of our will or consent, but 
soon after our creation our ruin resulted from the fall 
of Lucifer and his followers. The Almighty God, 
however, who is righteous and true, has doomed us 
to this place, where we suffer no pain, and where we 
can partially see the Divine presence ,W\» mm\. T^xaaxxv 

130 Brendaniana. 

apart from the spirits who stood faithful. We wander 
about the world, in the air, and earth, and sky, like the 
other spirits on their missions ; but on festival days we 
take the shapes you see, abide here, and sing the praises 
of our Creator. You and your brethren have been now 
one year on your voyage, and six more years' journey- 
ing awaits you ; where you celebrated your Easter this 
year, there will you celebrate it every year, until you 
find what you have set your hearts upon, the " Land of 
Promise of the Saints." When it had spoken thus, 
the bird arose from the prow of the vessel, and flew 
back to the other birds. 

On the approach of the hour cf vespers, all the birds, 
in unison, clapping their wings, began to sing : " A 
hymn, Lord, becometh Thee in Sion, and a vow shall 
be paid to Tliee in Jerusalem" (Ps. lxiy.) ; and they 
alternately chanted the same psalm for an hour ; and 
the melody of their warbling and the accompanying 
clapping of their wings, sounded like unto a delightful 
harmony of great sweetness. 

Then St. Brendan said to the brethren : " Take 
bodily refreshment now, for the Lord has sated 
your souls with the joys of His divine resurrection." 
When supper was ended, and the divine office dis- 
charged, the man of God and his companions retired 
to rest until the third watch of the night, when he 
aroused them all from sleep, chanting the verse : 
"Thou, Lord, wilt open my lips;" whereupon alL 
the birds, with voice and wing, warbled in response : 
" Praise the Lord, all His angels, praise Him all Hi» 
virtues." Thus they sang for an hour every nighty 

Tlie Voyage of St. Brendan. 131 

and when morning dawned, they chanted : " May the 
splendour of the Lord God be upon us," in the same 
melody and measure as their matin praises of God. 
Again, at tierce, they sang the verse : " Sing to our 
God, sing ; sing to our King, sing wisely ;" at sext : 
" The Lord hath caused the light of His countenance to 
shine upon us, and may He have mercy on us ;" and at 
none they sang I " Behold how good and how pleasant ) 
lit is for brethren to dwell in unity." Thus day and 
night those birds gave praise to God. St. Brendan, 
seeing all this, made thanksgiving to the Lord for all 
His wonderful works ; and the brethren were thus 
regaled with such , spiritual viands until the octave of 
the Easter festival. 

At the close of the festival days, St. Brendan said : 
"Let us now partake of the water of this fountain; 
hitherto we had need of it only to wash our hands or 
feet." Soon after this the man with whom they had 
been three days before Easter, who had supplied them 
with provisions for the Paschal season, came to them 
with his boat full of food and drink ; and having laid it 
all before the holy father, he said : " My brothers, you 
have here abundance to last until Pentecost ; but do 
not drink of that fountain, for its waters have a peculiar 
virtue, so that anyone drinking thereof, though it seems 
to have The taste and quality of ordinary water, is seized 
with sleep, and cannot awaken for twenty-four hours.*' 
After this, having received the blessing of St. Brendan, 
he returned to his own place. 

St. Brendan remained where he was with his brethren 
until Pentecost, the singing oHUe \Ai<k\>fc\\i%^^\^k 

132 Brendaniana. 

ever new to them. On the feast of Pentecost, 
St. Brendan and the priests had celebrated Mass, 
venerable procurator, or provider, brought sufficien 
for the festival ; and when they had sat down toget 
their repast, he said to them : *' My brothers, you 
yet a long journey before you ; take, therefore, froi 
fountain vessels full of its water, and dry brea< 
may keep for another year, and I will supply as 
as your boat can carry." He then departed v 
blessing from all ; and St. Brendan, eight days 
wards, got the boat laden with the provisions br< 
by this man, and all the vessels filled with water 
the fountain. 

When they had brought everything down t( 
shore, the bird before mentioned flew towards t 
and alighted on the prow of the boat ; and the i 
understanding that it would make something knoi 
him, stood still where he was. Then the bir< 
human voice, addressed him: "With us you 
celebrated the Paschal time this year ; you will 
brate it with us also next year, and where you 
been in the past year on the festival of the L 
Supper, theije will you also be on the same festival 
year. In like manner, you will celebrate the festn 
the Lord's Pasch, as you did before on the back o 
great fish Jasconius ; and after eight months you 
find the island of St. Ailbe, where you will celet 
the Nativity of Jesus Christ." Having spoken t 
the bird returned to its place on the tree. 

TJte Voyage of St. Brendan. 133 


At this the abbot stood amazed, 
And wondering, on their beauty gazed, 
And prayed to Heaven, that it might show, 
Both whence they came, and where they go, 
And who they were — when instantly 
One of those birds from off the tree 
Flew toward him, lightly hovering ; 
While at each stroke of that bright wing 
Burst forth such harp-like melody, 
That tranced in joy and bliss was he. 
Then mildly to the bird lie said : 
" If thou by hand of God wast made 
To serve Him, swiftly to me tell 
What isle is this ? and what befel 
Thee and thy feathered company, 
That far from all society 
Of men ye won— for ye are fair 
As disembodied spirits are." 
Then sang the bird : " Erst we were high 
In power and glory in the sky, 
For angels were we, but we fell 
When pride drove Sathanas to hell : 
For we his vassals were, and driven 
Thus for his surquedie* from Heaven— 
Now exiled for a space to stay 
Upon this island, till the day 
That shall restore us to the skies, 
For we are birds of Paradise. — 
But ye have much," said he, " to do 
And bear ere Paradise ye view, 
And six years' toils must suffer still, 
Rocked by the winds and waves at will ; 
And aye each year your Pasch shall keep 
Upon some monster of the deep." 
When thus he said, away he flew 
Back to his tree ; and when the dew, 
And slanting shade, and sun's soft shining, 
Showed that the day was fast declining, 

* i.e. Rebellion. 

134 Brendaniana. 

These snowy birds, with dulcet throats 
Poured in sweet unison their notes ; — 
And sang so softly, clearly, sweetly ; 
With voice and heart, aye so completely 
Joined in God's praise that ye might ne'er 
The solace of that compare 
With aught that human song could do 
Tho' man might learn a lesson too. 
Then said the abbot : " Brethren, see, 
These birds a lesson teach to ye ; 
Tho' fallen from their high state, and driven 
Unto this isle, yet praise they Heaven, 
And thank the Lord, who unto us 
Hath been by far more bounteous ; 
And hence should we prepare more praise." 
With joyful hearts their chant they raise, 
They quit the ship, and range along 
The shore ; and now the complin song 
They chant with pleasant melody. 
Then free from all anxiety, 
Commend themselves to .Jesus' care, 
And soon they slumber sweetly there. 

Anglo-Normayi Trouverc. 


The Island of 8t. Ailbe. r 

The brethren got the boat ready, and set .sail forth 
into the ocean, while all the birds sung in concert: 
"Hear us, God our Saviour, the hope of all the ends 
of the earth, and in the sea afar off." After this 
St. Brendan and his brethren were tossed about to 
and fro on the billows of the ocean for the space of 
three months, during which they could see nothing but 
sea and sky, and they took refreshment only every i 
second day. One day, however, an island came into 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. 135 

view, not far off ; but when they drew near the shore 
the wind drove them aside, and thus for forty days 
they sailed round about the island without finding a 
landing-place. The brethren meanwhile besought the 
Lord with tears that He would vouchsafe to help them, 
for their strength was almost exhausted because of 
their great fatigue ; and when they had thus persevered 
in frequent prayer for three days, and in fasting also, 
at length they found a narrow creek- fit to receive one 
boat, and beside it two fountains, one foul and the other 
limpid. When the brethren hastened to take some of 
the water, the man of God said to them : " My chil- 
dren, do nothing that may be unlawful. Take nothing 
here without the leave of the venerable fathers who are 
on this island, and they will freely give what you 
would take by stealth." 

When all had landed and were considering in what 
direction they should go, there came to them an old man, 
wasted from extreme old age, whose hair was white as 
snow and his face pellucid like glass. He prostrated him- 
self thrice, before he went to embrace the man of God, 
who, raising him up from the ground, embraced him, as 
did all the brethren, in like manner. Then this aged man, 
taking the holy father by the hand, led him to the monas- 
tery, about a furlong distant, when St. Brendan stood at 
the entrance, and asked his guide whose monastery this 
was, and who was its superior. He put to him various 
questions in this way, but could get no reply, only manual 
signs, indicating silence with much gentleness. As soon 
as the holy father recognised that silence was the rule of 
the place, he cautioned his brethren'. "Bfe^&\\x^s< 

136 Brendaniana. 

tongues from much talking, lest the monks here may be 
scandalized by your foolish speeches." 

After this, there came forth to meet them eleven 
monks, in their habits and crosses, chanting the versicle : 
" Arise, you holy ones from your dwellings, and come 
forth to meet us ; sanctify this place ; bless this people, 
and vouchsafe to guard us, thy servants, in peace." The 
vejrsicle being ended, the abbot embraced St. Brendan 
and his companions in due order, and in like manner his 
monks embraced the brethren of the holy man. When 
the kiss of peace was thus mutually given and received, 
they conducted them into the monastery, according to 
the custom in western countries ; and the abbot and his 
monks proceeded to wash the feet of their guests, and 
to chant the " New Commandment/ V 

Then he led them all into the refectory, in strict 
silence ; and when they had washed their hands he gave 
them a signal to take their seats, when one of the monks, 
on a given signal, rose up and supplied the table with j 
loaves of bread of marvellous whiteness and roots of 
delicious flavour. The monks had taken places at table * 
alternately with their guests, in due order, and between 
each pair a whole loaf was served, when the ministering 
brother set before them also some drink. Father abbot, 
in much cheerfulness, pressed his guests: "Brothers, 
from the fountain, out of which to-day you wished to 
drink stealthily, make now a loving cup in gladness 
and in the fear of the Lord. From the other fountain 
of foul water, which you saw, are the feet of the brethren 
washed, for it is always tepid. Those loaves of bread 
^bich you now see before you, we know not where 

Tlie Voyage of St. Brendan. 137 

they are prepared, or who brings them to our cellar ; but 
we know well that, by the free gift of God, they are 
supplied to us, as an alms, by some obedient creature of 
His ; and thus is fulfilled in our regard the words of 
divine truth: ' Those who fear God want for nothing.'! 
Here we are twenty-four brothers, having each day 
twelve loaves for our support, one loaf for two' brothers j| 
but on Sundays and great festivals the Lord allows us 
a full loaf for each brother, so that of what remains we 
may have a supper ; and now, on your advent, we have a 
double supply; thus it is that from the days of St. Patrick 
and St. Ailbe, our patriarchs, for eighty years until now, 
Christ provides us with sustenance. Moreover, neither 
old age nor bodily infirmities increase upon us here, 
neither do we need cooked food, nor are we oppressed 
with heat or distressed with cold ; but we live here, as it 
were, in the paradise of God. When the hours for the 
divine office and for Mass arrive, the lamps in our church, 
which, under God's guidance, we brought with us from 
our own country, are set alight, and burn always without 
growing less." 

When the repast was over, and they had thrice 
taken some drink, the abbot gave the usual signal, and 
all the brethren, in great silence, rose from table, giving 
thanks to God, and preceded the fathers to the church, 
at the door of which they met twelve other monks* 
who readily bent the knee, as they passed. Then 
St. Brendan said : " Father abbot, why have not those 
monks dined with us?" "For your sakes," said the 
abbot, "as our table could not seat us all together. 
They will now take their meal, for t\xto\3^ci <ao8t%\tf&? 

138 Brendaniana. 

willthey shall want for nothing. We will now enter 
the church and sing vespers, so that the brethren who 
are now dining, may sing the office afterwards in proper 
time." When vespers had concluded, St. Brendan took 
heed of the structure of the church : it was a perfect 
square of equal length and breadth, and in it were seven 
lamps, so arranged that three of them hung before the 
central altar, and two before each of the side altars. 
All the altars were of crystal, and the chalices, patenas,| 
cruets, and the other vessels required for the Divines 
Sacrifice were also of crystal. Around the church! 
were ranged twenty-four benches, with the abbot's seat 
between the two choirs of monks in rows on either side. 
No monk from either choir was allowed to intone the 
chant of .the office, but the abbot ; and throughout the 
monastery no voice was heard, nor any sound whatever ; 
but if a brother needed anything, he went to the 
abbot, and on his knees made signs that he wanted 
aught; and then the father wrote on a tablet what 
God bad intimated to him tro be needful for the 

While St. Brendan was pondering all these things, 
the abbot said to him : " Father, it is now time to returd 
to the refectory, that all may be done with day-light, as 
it is written : ' He who walketh in the light, stumbleth 
not.' So it was done, and when all things were com- 
pleted in due order of the daily routine, all hastened 
with alacrity to complin. Then the abbot intoned the 
versicle: "Incline unto my aid, O Lord," invoking 
at the same time the Most Holy Trinity ; and they sub- 
join the autiphon : " We have sinned; we have acted 


The Voyage of St Brendan. 139 

unrighteously ; we have worked iniquity ; Thou, 
Lord Christ, who art all mercy, have pity on us. In 
peace unto the selfsame, I will sleep and take my rest ;" 
and they proceed to chant the office of complin. 

When the office had concluded, the brethren went to 
their cells, taking their guests with them ; but the abbot 
remained with St. Brendan, in the church, to await the 
lighting of the lamps The saint asked the father 
abbot about the rule of silence they observed ; how such 
a mode of intercourse in a community was possible to 
flesh and blood. The abbot, with much reverence and 
humility, replied : " Holy father, I declare before the 
Lord, that during the eighty years that have passed 
since we came to this island, none of us has heard from 
the other the sound of the human voice, save only when 
we sing the praises of God. Amongst us twenty-four 
brothers, no voice is raised ; but signs are made by the 
fingers or the eyes ; and this is permit£ed only to the 
elder monks. None of us, since we came here, have 
suffered any infirmity of body or mind, such as may be 
fatal to mankind." Upon this St. Brendan said with 
many tears : " Vouchsafe, I beseech thee, father abbot, 
to let us know whether we are permitted or not to 
abide here/ ' The abbot rejoined: "You are not per- 
mitted, for such is not the will of God; but why do you 
ask me, when God had revealed to you, before you came 
to us, what you must do ? You must return to your 
own country, where God has prepared for you, as well 
as for your fourteen companions, the place of sepulture. 
Of the other two monks, one will have his pilgrimage 
in the island oi the anchorites ', \>\A \tafc o^^^ik'SQS 

140 Brendaniana. 

in hell the worst of all deaths ;" and these events after- 
wards came to pass. 

While they were thus conversing, behold, as they 
looked on, a fiery arrow, passing in through a window, 
set alight all the lamps that hung before the altars, and 
passing out through the same window, left the lamps 
burning. Then St. Brendan inquired who would 
extinguish those lamps in the morning, and the abbot re- 
plied : " Come, and see the secret of all this : you observe 
those tapers burning in the vases ; yet none of them is 
consumed, nor do they grow less, nor do any ashes 
remain in the morning, for the light is entirely spiri- 
tual." "How," said St. Brendan./' can a spiritual 
flame thus burn in a material substance?" "Have 
you not read," said the abbot, " of the burning bush, 
near Mount Sinai, which remained unconsumed by the 
burning ? " " Yes," said the saint, " I have read of this ; 
but what analogy has it to this case ? " 

When they had thus remained on watch until morn- 
ing, St. Brendan asked permission to depart from the 
island, but the abbot replied: "No, man of God, 
you must celebrate with us the festival of our Lord's 
Nativity, and afford us the joy of your company until 
the Octave of Epiphany." The holy father, therefore, 
with his brethren, remained until that time, on this 
Island of St. Ailbe. 


So forth they hie with glee 

The abbot and his company, 

When, lo ! they found a wond'rous spring, 

From whence two streams their waters fling, 

The one was foul, the other bright — 

Much gazed the faithful at the sight ; 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. 141 

But faint were they, so blithe they go 

To slake their thirst : " No, brothers, no," 

Brandon out cried ; " first seek and know 

If this strange spring be wholesome drink." 

Affright they hastened from the brink, 

Tho' sorely pained with thirst ; — then nigh 

An old man came, and when his eye 

Glanced on St. Brendan, and he saw 

The holy freres, with mickle awe 

He prostrate fell, and kissed the hands 

Of the abbot, who now bade him stand, 

And soothly tell by word or sign 

Where were they. Well could he divine, 

Although he spoke not what was said, 

And joyfully and swiftly led 

The abbot and his companie, 

With care and all humilitie 

Unto an abbey, fair and good 

(Beneath the moon none holier stood) 

The abbot of that saintly place, 

With honour due his guests to grace, 

Caused bring forth from his treasurye 

Belies of rich orfeverie — 

Crosses and ?hrines, and caskets fair, 

With amethysts beset, and rare 

Open -wrought gold, most rich y-chased, 

And precious gems all featly placed 

Around, and censers fair y-dight 

Of solid gold, and jewels bright, 

And vestments rich, not wrought alone 

With silk, but many a priceless stone,*- 

Garnet and ruby, sardonis, 

Topaz and jasper precious, 

Gleamed on the clasps most gorgeously. 

Angh-Norman Trouvere. 

142 Brendaniana. 

Thby Visit othbb Islands. 

When those festival days had passed, St. Brendan, with 
the blessing of the abbot and all his monks, and with 
a supply of the necessary provisions, set sail into the 
ocean ; and there the vessel, without the use of oar or sail, 
drifted about in various directions, until the beginning 
of Lent. One day they saw an island not far off, and 
quickly made sail towards it ; for they ^vere harassed with 
hunger and thirst, their store of food and water having 
been exhausted three days before. When St. Brendan 
had blessed the landing-place, and all had landed, they ; 
found a spring of limpid water, and herbs and vegetables/. 
of divers kinds around it, and many sorts of fish in the 
stream that flowed from it to the sea. Then St. Brendan 
said: "Brothers, God has surely given us comfort, 
after our wearisome labours. Take of those fishes 
sufficient for your repast, and dress them on the fire, 
and gather also those herbs and roots which God has 
provided for His servants." When this was done, they 
poured out some of the water to drink ; but the man of 
God cautioned them: "Take heed, my brethren that! 
you use this water in moderation. But the brethren 
paid not equal heed to this caution, for while some drank 
only one cup of the water, others drank two cups, 
uid others again drank three of them ; so that upon 
lome of them there fell a sudden stupor, which lasted 
/or the space of three days and nights; when upon 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. 143 

others it befell only for one day and night ; but 
St. Brendan prayed without ceasing to God for them, 
as they incurred this great danger through ignorance. 
When three days had passed, the father said to his 
companions : " Let us, my children, hasten away from 
this fatal place, lest greater evil befall you ; the Lord\ 
had given you refreshment, but you have turned it| 
to your detriment. Go forth, therefore, from this 
island, taking with you as much fish as you may want 
for a meal on every third day, until the festival of the 
Lord's Supper ; and also one cup of this water for each 
man, with a like supply of the vegetables." Having 
laden the boat with those provisions, as the man of God 
directed, they set sail into the ocean in a northerly 

After three days and nights the wind ceased, and the 
sea became like a thick curdled mass, so great was the 
calm. Then the holy father said : " Take in your oars, 
and cast loose the sails, for the Lord will guide our 
boat whithersoever He willeth." In this manner was 
the boat kept in motion for the space of about twenty 
days, until at length God sent a favourable wind ; when 
t!iey put on sail, and worked their oars also in an. 
easterly direction, taking refreshment every third day. • 

On a certain day there came into view an island, like 
a cloud, at a distance, when St. Brendan asked the 
brethren whether they recognised it. On their reply- 
ing that they did not, the holy father said to them: " I 
know it well, my children, for we were on it last year, 
on the festival of the Lord's Supper, and therein our 
good procurator abides." Hearing \»\i\& \tafc \rcs&co! 

144 Brendaniana. 

in great j6y, plied their oars vigorously, putting forth 
all their strength ; but the man of God said to them : 
" Senseless you are thus to tire out your limbs. Is not j 
v^he Almighty God the pilot of our vessel ? Leave her, | 

sierefore, in His hands, for He will guide her course \ 
as He s willeth. 

When they drew near to the island, their procurator 
came out to meet them ; and, giving glory to God, led 
them to the same landing-place where they had landed 
the year before, where he embraced the feet of 
St. Brendan and all the brethren, saying : "Wonderful 
is God in His saints." Having finished the versicle,* 
and everything being removed from the boat, he set up 
a tent, and prepared a bath for them, for it was the 
festival of the Lordjs Supper; and he provided new 
garments for all the brethren, as well as for St. Brendan, 
performing all other services to them as was his wont. 
The brethren then celebrated with great diligence 
the festival of the Passion of our Lord, until Holy 
Saturday, when all the offices and ceremonies of the day 
being ended, and the festival of the Lord's Supper 
being fully completed, the procurator said to them : " Go 
now to your boat, in order that you may celebrate the 
vigil of Easter, where you celebrated it last year, and 
also the day itself, until the hour of sext ; then sail on 
to the Paradise of Birds, where you were last year, 
from Easter until the Octave of Pentecost. Take with 
you all you require of food and drink, and I will visit 

ou on next Sunday week." And the brethren acted 

St. Brendan, giving his blessing to this good brother, 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. 145 

embarked with all his brethren, and made sail to another 
island. When they drew near to the landing-place 
they found the caldron, which in their flight the year 
before they had left on the back of Jasconius. Then 
St. Brendan, going on land, sung the " Hymn of the 
Three Children" to the close, and cautioned the brethren : 
" Watch and pray, my children, that you enter not into 
temptation ; consider well, how the Almighty God has 
placed under us, without difficulty, this greatest monster 
of the deep." The brethren made their vigils here and 
there over the island, until the morning watch, when all 
the priests said their masses until the hour of tierce ; 
but St. Brendan, getting into the boat, with the brethren, 
there offered to God the holy sacrifice of the Immacu- 
late Lamb, saying : " Last year we celebrated here our 
• Lord's resurrection; and I desire, if it be God's holy 
will, to celebrate it here also this year." 

Proceeding thence fliey came to the island called the 
Paradise of Birds ; and when they reached the landing- 
place, all the fr'rds sang in concert : " Salvation to our 
God, who sitteth on the throne, and to the Lainb;" and, 
again : " The Lord is God, and He hath shone upon 
us ; appoint a solemn day, with shady boughs, even 
to the horn of the altar." (Ps. cxvii.) Thus with 
voice and wing they warbled, until St. Brendan and 
his companions were settled in their tent, where 
they passed the Paschal time, until the Octave of 

The procurator already mentioned came to them,. as 
he had promised, on Low Sunday, bringing what was 
needed for their sustenance; andmiMkd^ ^.^jm^ 

146 Brendaniana. 

thanks to God. When they were seated at their repast, 
behold ! the bird before spoken of perched on the prow 
of the boat, spreading out and clapping its wings with 
a loud sound, like a great organ, and St. Brendan knew 
that it wished to convey to him this message, which it 
spoke as follows; " The Almighty and merciful God 
has appointed for you four certain places, at four different 
seasons of the year, until the seven years of your pil- 
grimage will be ended ; on the festival of our Lord's 
Supper you will be each year with your procurator, who 
is here present : the vigil and festival of Easter you 
will celebrate on the back of the great whale ; with us 
here you will spend the Paschal time, until the Octave 
of Pentecost, and on the island of St. Ailbe you will 
remain from Christmas until the festival of the Purifi- 
cation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After those seven 
years, through many and divers perils, you will find the 
Land of Promise of the Saints which you are seeking, 
and there you will bide for forty days ; then will God 
guide your return to the land of your birth." 

When St. Brendan had heard this, he, with many 
tears, cast himself prostrate, as did also the brethren, 
giving thanks and praises to the great Creator of all 
things. The bird then flew back to its place on the 
tree, and when the meal was ended, the procurator 
said : " I will, with God's help, come to you again on 
Pentecost Sunday with provisions/' And with a blessing 
from all, he took his departure. 

TJte Voyage of Si. Brendan. 147 


They are Miraculously Saved from Destruction. 

The venerable father remained here for the appointed 
time, and then ordered the brethren to make ready the 
boat, and to fill all the water vessels from the fountain 
When the boat was launched, the procurator met them 
in his boat laden with provisions, which he quickly 
transferred into the boat of the man of God ; and, with < 
a parting embrace, returned whence he had come ; but 
the saint sailed forth into the ocean, and the boat was 
borne along for the space of forty days. — . 

One day a fish of enormous size appeared swimming ' 
after the boat, spouting foam from its nostrils, and 
ploughing through the waves in rapid pursuit .to 
devour them. Then the brethren cried out to the 
Lord : " Lord, who hast made us, deliver us, Thy 
servants ;" and to St. Brendan they cried aloud: 
"Help, father, help us;" and the saint besought! 
the Lord to deliver His servants* that this monster| 
may not devour them, while he also sought to give| 
courage to the brethren in these words: "Fear not,) 
you of little faith ; for God, who is always our pro- 
tector, will deliver us from the jaws of this monster, 
and from every other danger." When the monster was 
drawing near, waves of immense size rushed on before 
it, even up to the gunwale of the boat, which caused the 
brethren to fear more and more ; but St. Brendan, with 
hands upraised to heaven, earnest^ \>i&je&\ "\i*SeEWL* 

148 Brendaniana. 

O Lord, Thy servants, as Thou didst deliver David 
from the hands of the giant Goliah, and Jonas from the 
power of the great whale." 

When these prayers were uttered, a great monster 
came into view from the west, and rushing against 
the other, spouting flame from its mouth, at once 
attacked it. Then St. Brendan spoke : " Behold, my 
children, the wonderful work of our Saviour; see 
here the obedience of the creature to its Creator : await 
now the end in safety, for this conflict will bring no 
evil to us, but only greater glory to God. 1 ' Thereupon 
the rueful monster that pursued the servants of God is 
slain, and cut up in their presence into three parts, and 
its victor returned whence it came. 

Next day they saw at a distance an island full of 
herbage and of wide extent. When they drew near it, 
and were about to land, they found the hinder por- 
tion of the monster that was slain. "Behold," said 
St. Brendan, " what sought to devour you. Do you 
now make your food of it, and fill yourselves abundantly 
with its flesh, for you will have a long delay upon this 
island. Draw the boat higher up on the land, and seek 
out a suitable place whereon to fix our tent." 

When the father had selected a site for their tent, 
and the brethren had, in compliance with his directions, 
place$ therein the requisite fittings, he said to them : 
" Take now, of this monster's flesh, sufficient provision 
for three months, as this night will its carcass be 
devoured by the great fishes of the sea." The brethren 
acted accordingly, and took as much of its flesh as was 
needed; but they said to St.BieYv&axv*. " Holy father, 

Tlie Voyage of St. Brendan. 149 

how can we live here without water to drink?" "Is 
it more difficult/ ' said the saint, " for the Almighty to 
give us water than to give us food ? Go to the southern 
side of the island, and there you will find a spring of 
clear water and abundance of herbs and roots, of which 
you will take a supply sufficient for your wants/' And 
they found everything as the man of God had told them. 
St. Brendan remained on this island for three months, 
for violent storms prevailed at sea, and severe stress of 
weather, from hail and rain. The brethren went to see 
what had become of the remains of the great monster, 
of which the saint had spoken ; and they found, where 
its carcass had lain, only its bones, as the father had 
told them ; and when they mentioned this to him : "If 
you needed to test the truth of my words," said he, " I 
will give you another sign; this night will a large 
part of a fish, breaking loose from a fisher's net, be cast 
ashore here, and to-morrow you will have your repast 
on it." Next day they went to the place indicated, and 
finding there what the man of God had foretold, brought 
away as much fish as they could carry. The venerable 
father then said to them: " Keep this carefully, and 
salt it, for it will be much needed, as the Lord will 
grant calm weather to-day and to-morrow; and on the 
third day, when the turbulence of the sea and the waves 
will have subsided, we will take our departure from 
this island." 


Toward them a serpent of the sea 
Rushed swift as wind most savagely— 
The fire that from his nostrils came 
Was like^the roaring furnace ftamft, 

150 Brendaniana. 

Unmeasured was his length, I trew — 

His very breadth was huge enew, 

Full fifteen feet, and all around him 

The waves were seething. Nought could found him, 

He near the frighted pilgrims drew ; 

Then Brendan spoke, right bold and true 

His words — " O sirs, now wherefore stand, 

Fearing that God's all powerful hand 

Is short to save ! guard, I pray, 

'Gainst senseless fear, that would gainsay 

God's word, and take this truth away. — 

Who puts his trust in Heaven's high King, 

Hath need to fear no living thing." 

Then, lo ! another monster rose 

That huge sea-serpent to oppose — 

Eight toward the ship his swift course steering, 

And when the other saw him nearing, 

Full well, I trew, his foe he knew, 

And backward from the vessel drew. 

And now they close in deadly fight, 

With huge heads reared, a fearful sight ! 

While from their nostrils flames spout high 

As are the clouds in the upper sky ; 

Blows with their fins each gives his brother, 

Like clashing shields on one another : — 

With murd'rous teeth each other biting, 

Like trenchant swords each other smiting. 

Spouted the blood, and gaping wide 

Were teeth-prints in each monster's side ; 

And huge and deadly deep each wound — 

And blood- tinged all the waves around, 

And all a-seething was the sea, 

And still the fight raged furiously. 

The first now fought with failing might, 

The second triumphed in the fight, 

With stronger teeth he overbore him, 

And into three huge pieces tore him ; 

And then the victory gained, he goes 

Back to the place from whence he rose. 

Anglo- Norman Trouvere. 

The Voyage of St;' Brendan. 151 


The Three Choirs of Saints. 

When those days had elapsed, St. Brendan ordered 
them to load their boat with the skins and water- 
fvessels filled from the fountain, and with a supply ofi 
.herbs and roots also, as much as may be needful ; fori 
the saint, since he was ordained a priest, eat of nothing | 
in which had been the breath of life. Having thus laden 
the boat, they set sail in a northerly direction. One day 
they saw an island afar off, when St. Brendan said to 
the brethren : " On that island, now in view, there are 
three classes of people: boys, young men, and elders; 
and one of our brothers will have his pilgrimage there." 
The brethren asked him which of them it was ; but he 
was loath to tell ; when, however, they pressed the 
question, and seemed grieved at not being told, he said: 
" This is the brother who is to remain on this island." 
He was one of the monks who had come after the saint 
from his own monastery, about whom he had made a 
prediction when they embarked in their own country. 
They then drew near to the island, until the boat 
touched the shore. 

The island was remarkably flat, almost level with the 
sea, without a tree or anything that waved in the wind ; 
but it was of wide extent, and covered over with white 
and purple flowers.* Here, as the man of God had 
told, were three troops of monks, standing apart, about 

* Calthus, the MftrigoVV. 

152 Brendaniana. 

a stone's cast from «ach other, and keeping at this 
distance asunder when they moved in any direction. 
One choir, in its place, chanted: "The saints shall J 
advance from virtue to virtue ; God shall be manifest j 
in Sion ;" and then another choir took up the same 
chant ; and thus they chanted unceasingly. The first 
choir was of boys, robed in snow-white garments; the 
second was of young men, dressed in violet ; and the 
third of the elder men, in purple dalmatics. 

When the boat reached the landing-place it was the 
fourth hour;' and at the hour of sext, all the choirs 
of monks sung together the Psalm : " May God have 
mercy on us, and bless us" (Ps. lxvi.), to the end ; and 
"Incline unto my aid, O Lord;" and also the psalm, 
" I have believed, therefore have I spoken " (Ps. cxv.), 
with the proper prayer. In like manner, at the hour 
of none, they chanted three other psalms: "Out of 
the depths I have cried to thee, Lord " (Ps. cxxix.) ; 
" Behold how good and howjplea^int it is for brethren 
to dwell together in unity " (Ps. cxxxii.) ; and " Praise 
the Lord, Jerusalem ; praise thy God, Sion " 
(Ps. cxlvii.). Again, at Vespers, they sung the psalms : 
" A hymn, Lord, becometh Thee in Sion " (Ps. lxiv.) ; 
" Bless the Lord, my soul " (Ps. cii.) ; and " Praise 
the Lord, ye children ; praise ye the name of the Lord " 
(Ps. cxii.) ; then they chanted, when seated, the fifteen 
gradual psalms. 

After they had finished this chanting, & cloud of 

matvellous brightness overshadowed the island, so that 

they could not see what was visible before ; but they 

' the voices, withoxit ceasing, in the same chant 

The Voyage of St. Bendan. . 153 

until the morning-watch, when they sung the psalms : 
"Praise the Lord from the heavens" (Ps. cxlviii.) ; 
" Sing unto the Lord " (Ps. cxlix.) ; and " Praise the 
Lord in his saints " (Ps. cl.) ; and then twelve psalms, 
in the order of the psaltery, as far as the psalm : " The 
fool saith in his heart " (Ps. xiii.). At the dawn of day, 
this cloud passed away from the island, and then the 
choirs chanted the three psalms: "Have mercy on 
me, Lord " (Ps. 1.) ; " The Lord is my refuge " 
(Ps. lxxxix.); and, " God, my God" (Ps. lxii.). 
Again, at the hour of tierce, they sang three other 
psalms : " Oh, clap your hands, all ye nations " 
(Ps. xlvi.) ; "Save me, God, by Thy name " (Ps. liii.) ; 
and, " I have loved, because the Lord will hear the 
voice of my prayer" (Ps. cxiv.), with the Alleluia. Then 
they offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Immaculate 
Lamb, and all received the Holy Communion with the 
words : " This Sacred Body of the Lord and the Blood 
of our Saviour receive unto life everlasting." 

When the Holy Sacrifice was ended, two members 
of the choir of the young men brought a basket full of 
purple grapes, and placed it in the boat of the man of 
God, saying : " Partake of the fruit of the isle of the 
Strong Men, and deliver to us our chosen brother; 
then depart in peace." St. Brendan th§n called this 
brother to him, and said : " Give the kiss of peace to 
your brethren, and go with those who are inviting you. 
I say to you, that in a happy hour did your mother 
conceive you, because you have deserved to abide with 
so holy a community." St. Brendan then, with many 
tears, gave him the kiss of peace, as did also the hrathxai 

154 Brendaniana. 

and said to him : " Remember, my dear son, the special 
favours to which God has preferred thee in this life ; 
go thy way, and pray for us." Bidding them all fare- 
well, the brother quickly followed the two young men 
to the companies of the saints, who, on seeing him, 
sang the verse : "Behold how good and pleasant it is 
for brethren to dwell together in unity ; " and in a higher 
key intoned the Te Deum laudamus (" We praise Thee, 
God") ; and then, when all had embraced him, he was 
admitted into their society. 

St. Brendan set sail from the island, and when meal- 
time had come, he told the brethren to refresh, them- 
selves with the grapes they got on the island. Taking 
up one of them, and seeing its great size, and how full 
of juice it was, he said, in wonder : " Never have I seen 
or read of grapes so large/' They were all of equal size, 
like a large ball, and when the juice of one was pressed 
into a vessel, it yielded a pound weight. This juice the 
father divided into twelve parts, giving a part every day 
to each of the brethren ; and thus for twelve days, one 
grape sufficed for the refreshment of each brother, in 
whose mouth it always tasted like honey. 

When those days had passed, St. Brendan ordered a 
fast for three day*, after which a resplendent bird flew 
towards the boat, bearing in its beak a branch of an 
unknown tree, on which there was a cluster of very red 
grapes ; and dropping it near the man of God, flew away. 
Then he said to the brethren : " Enjoy this feast the Lord 
hath sent us;" and the grapes being as large as apples, 
he gave some to each of them ; and thus they had food 
enough for four days, after w'hich they resumed their 

mom fasting. 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. ~ 155 

Three days after, they saw near at hand an island I 
covered all over with trees, closely set, and laden with 
such grapes as those, in surprising abundance, so that 
all the branches were weighed down to the ground, 
with fruit of the same quality and colour, and there 
was no tree fruitless or of a different kind in the whole 
island. The brethren then drew up to the landing- 
place ; and St. Brendan, leaving the boat, walked about 
the island, where the fragrance was like that of a house 
stored with pomegranates; the brethren the while 
remaining in the boat awaited his return, and the wind 
laden with those odours blew towards them, and so 
regaled them with its fragrance, that they heeded not 
their long fast. The venerable father found on the 
island six fountains, watering the greenest herbage and 
vegetables of divers kinds. He then returned to the 
brethren, bringing with him some samples, as first-fruits 
of the island : and he said to them : " Leave the boat 
now, and fix up your tent here ; be of good cheer, and. 
enjoy the excellent fruits of this land which God has 
shown to us." And thus for forty days they feasted on 
the grapes, and herbs, and vegetables watered by those / 
fountains. _ — I 

After that period, they embarked again, taking with 
them some of the fruits of thq- island, and sailed along 
as the winds shaped their course, when suddenly there 
appeared flying towards them the bird called Gryphon. 
When the brethren saw it, they cried out to the holy 
father : " Help us, father, for this monster comes to 
devour us." But the man of God told them to fear it 
not, for God was their helper. AxA Wxeti wc&titasst ^sak 

156 Brendaniana. 

bird came into view, and in rapid flight flew against 
Gryphon, engaging it in a combat, that seemed 
some time of doubtful event ; but at length, tearing 
its eyes, it vanquished and slew it ; and the carcass 
into the sea, in the sight of all the brethren, who the 
upon gave thanks and praises to God ; while the b 
which gained the victory flew away, whence it had coi 
They went to the island of St. Ailbe, to celebrate 1 
Christmas festival, and afterwards taking leave of 1 
abbot, with mutual blessings, they sailed about 1 
ocean for a long time, taking rest only at Easter a 
Christmas on the islands before mentioned. 


A flaming griffin in the sky, 

With fearful hearts they now espy 

With crooked claws to seize, I ween, 

And flaming wings and talons keen ; 

And o'er the ship he hovereth low, 

And vainly may the strong wind blow ; 

More swift is he, than barque more strong. 

And fierce he chaseth them along, 

But, lo ! a dragon takes his flight, 

With outstretched neck, and wings of might : 

A flaming dragon he, and grim, 

And toward the griffin beareth him. 

And now the battle furiously 

In mid air rageth fell to see, 

Sparks from their teeth fly thick around. 

And blows, and flames, and many a wound 

Is given. The pilgrims anxiously 

Gaze up ; oh ! which shall victor he ? 

The griffin's huge — the dragon slight, 

But far more lightsome for the fight ; 

And lo ! the griffin in the sea 

Falls dead. The dragon victory 

Hath won — O then they joyed outright, 

And thanked the God of pow r er and might. 

Anglo-Norman Tronvere. 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. 157 


Some Wonders of the Ocean. 

On a certain occasion, when St. Brendan was celebrat- 
ing the festival of St. Peter, in the boat, they found 
the sea so clear that they could plainly see what was at 
the bottom. They, therefore, saw beneath them various 
monsters of the deep, and so clear was the water, 
that it seemed as if they could touch with their 
hands its greatest depths ; and the b fishes were visible 
in great shoals, like flocks of sheep in the pastures, 
swimming around, heads to tails. The brethren 
entreated the man of God to say Mass in a low voice, 
lest those monsters .of the deep, hearing the strange 
voice, may be stirred up to attack them ; but the saint 
said : "I wonder much at your folly. Why do you 
dread those monsters ? Is not the largest of them all 
already devoured ? While seated, and often chanting 
upon its back, have you not chopped wood, an d kindled 
a fire, and even cooked some of its flesh ? Why, there- 
fore, should you fear those ? For our God is the Lord 
Jesus Christ, who can bring to nought all living things." 
Having thus spoken, he proceeded to sing the Mass in a 
louder voice, as the brethren were still gazing at the 
large fishes ; and these, when they heard the voice of the 
man of God, rose up from the depths, and swam around 
the boat in such numbers, that the brethren could see 
nothing but the swimming fishes, which, however, came 
not close to the boat, but swam around at some dis- 
tance, until the Mass was ended, vftiew W^j wtoedl ww* 

158 Brendaniana. 

in divers directions, out of the view of the brethren. 
For eight days, even with a favourable wind, and all 
sails set, they were scarcely able to pass out of this 
pellucid sea. 
Jr^ One day, on which three Masses had been said, they 
jj saw a column in the sea, which seemed not far off, yet 
they could not reach it for three days. When they 
drew near it, St. Brendan looked towards its summit, 
but could not see it, because of its great height, which 
seemed to pierce the skies. It was covered over with a 
rare canopy, the material of "which they knew not ; but 
it had the colour of silver, and was hard as marble, 
while the cdumn itself was of the clearest crystal. 
St. Brendan ordered the brethren to take in their oars, 
and to lower the sails and mast, and directed some of them 
to hold on by the fringes of the canopy, which extended 
about a mile from the column, and about the same 
depth into the sea. When this had been done, 
St. Brendan said : " Kun in the boat now through an 
opening, that we may get a closer view of the wonder- 
ful works of God." And when they had passed through 
the opening, and looked around them, the sea seemed 
to them transparent like glass, so that they could 
plainly see everything beneath them, even the base of 
the column, and the skirts or fringes of the canopy, 
lying on the ground, for the sun shone as brightly 
within as without. 

St Brendan then measured an opening between four 
pavilions, which he found to be four cubits on every 
side. While they sailed along for a day by one side of 
the column, they could always feel the shade as well as 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. 159 

the heat of the sun, beyond the ninth hour ; and after 
thus sailing about the column for four days, they found 
the measurement of each side to be four hundred (?) 
•cubits. On the fourth day* they discovered on the 
south side, a chalice of the same material as the canopy, 
and a patena like that of the column, which St. Brendan 
at once took up, saying: " The Lord Jesus Christ has 
displayed to us this great marvel, and has given to us 
two gifts therefrom, in testimony of the fact to others." 
The holy father then directed the brethren to perforin 
the divine office, and afterwards to take refreshment ; 
for they had taken none since they came in sight of this 
column. Next day they rowed towards the north, and 
having passed out through an opening, they set up the 
mast, and unfurled the sails again, while some of them 
held on by the fringes, or skirts of the canopy, until all 
was right in the boat. When they had set sail, a 
•favourable wind came on in the rear, so that they had 
no occasion to use the oars, but only to hold the ropes 

/and the tiller. And thus for eight days were they borne 

/ along towards the north. 

The Iceberg.— 

Eight in their course they clearly see 
A pillar rising in mid-sea ; 
A wondrous building round appeared, 
Not as a common structure reared, 
But founded all of sapphire stone — 
(Nought with more brightness shone), 
And to the clouds upreared high, 
While in the deep ye might descry 
Its base, and round about outspread 
A fair pavilion, to the sea 
Descending, while clear overhead* 
Like dazzling gold, the c&ncypy 

160 Brendaniana. 

Shone ; ne'er on earth was such a sight f 
Then Brendan with swift course sailed right 
Onward, and until within that tent, 
He and his monks, and vessel went. 
-And then he saw an altar, 
• Where the pillar stood, 'twas emerald rare, 
Sardonyx formed the sacristy, 
The pavement was chalcedony, 
And right above that pillar spread 
A golden drapery overhead. 
And there were beryl lamps — they saw 
Well pleased these marvels, for no awe 
Of peril had they, and three days 
They lingered in that pleasant place, 
Ceaseless the holy service singing. 

Anglo-Noi-man Trouverc. 


A Volcanic Island. 

When those days had passed, they came within view of 
an island, which was very rugged and rocky, covered 
over with slag, without trees or herbage, but full of 
smiths' forges. St. Brendan said to the brethren : " I am 
much distressed about this island ; I have no wish to enter 
it or even to approach it — yet the wind is driving us 
directly towards it, as if it were the aim of our course." 
When they had passed on further, about a stones cast, 
they heard the noise of bellows' blowing like thunder, and 
the beating of sledges on the anvils and iron. Then St. 
Brendan armed himself all over his body with the sign 
of the Cross, saying : " Lord Jesus Christ, deliver us 
from this malign island." Soon after one of the inhabi- 
tants came forth to do some work ; he was all hairy and 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. 16 1 

hideous, begrimed with fire and smoke. "When he saw 
the servants of Christ near the island, he withdrew into 
his forge, crying aloud : " Woe ! Woe ! Woe ! " 

St. Brendan again armed himself with the sign of the 
Cross, and said to the brethren : " Put on more sail, and 
ply your oars more briskly, that we may get away from this 
island." Hearing this, the savage man, above mentioned, 
rushed down to the shore, bearing in his hand a tongs 
with a burning mass of the slag, of great size and intense 
heat, which he flung at once after the servants of Christ ; 
but it did them no hurt, for they were protected by the 
sign of the Cross. It passed them at a furlong's distance, 
and where it fell into the sea, it fumed up like a heap of 
burning coals, and a great smoke arose as if from a fiery 
furnace. When they had passed on about a mile beyond 
the spot where this burning mass had fallen, all the 
dwellers on the island crowded down to the shore, bearing, 
each of them, a large itiass of burning slag, which they 
flung, every one in turn, after the servants of God ; and 
then they returned to their forges, which they blew up 
into mighty flames, so that the whole island seemed one 
globe of fire, and the sea on every side boiled up. and 
foamed, like a caldron set on a fire well supplied with 
fuel. All the day the brethren, even when they were no 
longer within view of the island, heard a loud wailing 
from the inhabitants thereof, and a noisome stench was 
perceptible at a great distance. Then St. Brendan 
sought to animate the courage of the brethren, saying : 
" Soldiers of Christ, be strong in faith unfeigned and in 
the armour of the Spirit, for we are now on thecox^&s\&% 
of hell; watch, therefore, and act maaafexX!^ " 

162 Brendaniana. 


Judas Iscabiot. 

On another day there came into view a large and high 
mountain in the ocean, not far off, towards the north, 
with misty clouds about it, and a great smoke issuing 
from its summit, when suddenly the wind drove the 
boat rapidly towards the island until it almost touched 
the shore. The cliffs were so high they could scarce see 
the top, were black as coal, and upright like a wall. 
Here the monk, who remained of the three who followed 
St. Brendan from his monastery, leaped from the boat, 
and made his way to the foot of the cliff, wailing and 
crying aloud : " Woe is me ! father, for I am forcibly 
torn away from you, and cannot return." But the 
brethren, seized with a great fear, quickly drew off from 
the shore ; and, lamenting loudly, cried unto the Lord : 
" Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us I" 
St. Brendan plainly saw how the wretched man was 
carried off by a multitude of demons, and was already 
burning amongst them, and he exclaimed : " Woe is 
yours, unhappy man, who has'made you so evil an end 
of your life." 

Afterwards a favourable breeze caught the boat, and 
drove them southwards ; and as they looked back, they 
saw the peak of the mountain unclouded, and shooting 
up flames into the sky, which it drew back again\to itself, 
so that the mountain seemed a burning pyre. After- 
this dreadful sight, they sailed for seven days towards 


The Voyage of St Brendan. 163 

the south, and then St. Brendan observed a very dense 
cloud, on approaching which there came into view what 
had the shape of a man, sitting on a rock, with a veil 
before him as large as a sack, hanging between two iron 
prongs ; and he was tossed about like a small boat in a 
storm. When the brethren saw this, some thought it 
was a bird ; others, that it was a boat ; but the man of 
God told them to cease the discussion, and to steer 
directly for the place ; where, on his arrival, he finds 
the waves all around motionless, as if frozen over. They 
found a man sitting on a rugged and shapeless rock, with 
the waves on every side, which in their flowing beat upon 
him, even to the top of his head, and in their ebbing 
exposed the bare rock on which the wretched man was 
sitting ; and the cloth which hung before him, as the 
winds tossed it about, struck k him on the eyes and on 
the forehead. 

When the saint asked him who he was, for what 
crime he was sent there, and how he had deserved to 
suffer so great a punishment, he answered : " I am that 
most unhappy Judas, the most wicked of all traffickers ; 
not for any deserving of mine, but through the un- 
speakable mercy of Jesus Christ, am I placed here. I 
expect no place for repentance; but through the for- 
bearance and mercy of the Eedeemer of the world, and 
in honour of His Eesurrection, I have this cooling 
relief, as it is now the Lord's Day ; while I sit here, I 
seem to myself tc be in a paradise of delights, consider- 
ing the agony of the torments that are in store for me 
afterwards ; for when I am in my torments, I bvyrcL^J&a 
a mass of molten lead, day and mg|bfe, Va >J&fe\x*»aX» A 

164 Brendaniana. 

that mountain you have seen. There Leviathan a 
his satellites dwell, and there was I when it swallov 
down your lost brother, for which all hell exulted, a 
belched forth great flames, as it always does, when 
devours the souls of the reprobate. But that you m 
know the boundless mercy of God, I will tell you of t 
refreshing coolness I have here every Sunday from t 
first vespers to the second ; from Christmas Day 
the Epiphany; from Easter to Pentecost; on t 
Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and on t 
festival of her Assumption. On all other days I a 
in torments with Herod and Pilate, with Annas ai 
Caiphas ; and, therefore, I adjure you, through tl 
Redeemer of the world, to intercede for me with tl 
Lord Jesus, that I may remain here until sunrise t 
morrow, and that the demons, because of your comii 
here, may not torment me, nor sooner drag me off to n 
heritage of pain, which I purchased at an evil price." 

The saint then said: "The will of the Lord I 
done ; you will not be taken away by the demons unt 
to-morrow." And he asked him what meant that clot 
in front of him. Judas replied : " This cloth I once ga\ 
to a leper, when I was the purse-bearer of the Lord 
but as it was not my own, I find no relief from it, bz 
rather hurt ; those iron prongs on which it hangs, 
once gave to the priests for supporting their caldrons 
and the stone on which I am sitting, I placed in 
trench on a public road before I became a disciple c 
the Lord's-" 

When evening came, a multitude of demons gathere< 
round in a circle, shouting : " Depart from us, mai 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. 165 

of God, for we cannot come near our comrade unless 
you retire from him, and we dare not see the face of our 
prince until we bring back to him his pet victim ; give us 
therefore, our prey, and keep it not from us this night." 
The saint then said : " I protect him not, but the Lord 
Jesus Christ has permitted him to remain here this 
night." The demons cried out : " fjow could you 
invoke the name of the Lord on behalf of him who had 
betrayed Him ? " The man of God then commanded 
them in the name of Jesus Christ to do him no hurt 
until morning. 

When the night had passed, at early dawn, when 
St. Brendan was proceeding on his way, a countless 
multitude of demons covered the face of the deep, 
uttering dreadful cries : " man of God, accursed be 
thy coming and thy going, for our chief has this night 
scourged us with cruel stripes, because we had not 
brought back his wretched captive." "Not on us," 
said the saint, " but on yourselves shall those curses be ; 
for blessed is he whom you curse, and accursed is he 
whom you bless." The demons shouted : " He will 
suffer double punishment for the next six days, because 
you saved him from his punishment last night." But 
the man of God warned them : " You have no power, 
neither has your chief, only whatever power God may 
give you ; and I command you in the name of the Lord, 
that you increase not his torments beyond those you 
were wont to inflict before." " Are you," said they, 
" the Lord of all, that we should thus obey your com- 
mand?" "No," rejoined the saint, "but I am the 
servant of the Lord of all ; and w\ia^oeNex\ q&\bx&»xA. 

166 Brendawiana. 

in His name, it is done, and I am His minister only in 
what He grants tojne." In this manner they pursued 
him with their blasphemies until he was far away from 
Judas ; and they bore off this wretched soul with great 
rushing and howling. 


Saint Brendan sails the northern main ; 

The brotherhoods of saints are glad. 
He greets them once, he sails again ; 

So late I— such storms ! — The saint is mad. 

He heard, across the howling seas, 
Chime convent-bells on wintry nights ; 

He saw, on spray-swept Hebrides, 
Twinkle the monastery lights ; 

But north, still north, Saint Brendan steered, 
And now no bells, no convents more 1 

The hurtling Polar lights are neared 
The sea without a human shore. 

At last — (it was the Christmas night ; 
Stars shone after a day of storm)— 
. He sees float past an iceberg white, 
And on it — Christ ! — a living form. 

That furtive mien, that scowling eye, 

Of hair that red and tufted fell — 
It is— oh, where shall Brendan fly ? — 

The traitor Judas, out of hell ! 

Palsied with terror, Brendan sate ; 

The mgon was bright, the iceberg near. 
He hears a voice sigh humbly : " Wait ! 

By high permission I am here. 

. " One moment wait, thou holy man ! 

On earth my crime, my death, they knew ; 
My name is under all men's ban — 
Ah I tell them of my respite, too ! 

"Tell them one blessed Christmas night 

(It was the first after I came, 
Breathing self-murder, frenzy, spite, 

To rue my guilt in endless ?tamtf) — 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. 167 

" I felt, as I in torment lay 

'Mid the souls plagued by heavenly power, 
An angel touch mine arm, and say : 

' Go hence and cool thyself an hour ! ' 

"' Ah ! whence this mercy, Lord? ' I said. 

' The Leper recollect,' said he, 
' Who asked the passers-by for aid, 

In Joppa, and thy charity.' 

" Then I remembered how I went, 

In Joppa, through the public street, 
One morn when the sirocco spent 

Its storms of dust with burning heat ; 

" And in the street a leper sate 

Shivering with fever, naked, old ; 
Sand raked his sores from heel to pate, 

The hot- wind fevered him five-fold. 

" He gazed upon me, as I passed. 

And murmur'd : ' Help me, or I die ! ' — 
To the poor wretch my cloak I cast, 

Saw him looked eased, and hurried by. 

" Brendan, think what grace divine, 
What blessing must full goodness shower, 

When fragment of it, small like mine, 
Hath such inestimable power ! 

" Well-fed, well-clothed, well friended, I 
Did that chance act of good, that one. 

Then went my way to kill and lie — ■ 
Forgot my good as soon as done. 

" That germ of kindness, in the womb 

Of mercy caught, did not expire ; 
Outlives my guilt, outlives my doom, 

And friends me in the pit of fire. 

" Once every year, when carols wake, 
On earth, the Christmas-night's repose 

Arising from the sinner's lake, 
I journey to these healing &ncro&. 

168 Brendaniana. 

u I stanch with ice my burning breast, 
With silence balm my whirling brain. 

Brendan 1 to this hour of rest 
That Joppan leper's ease was pain." 

Tears started to Saint Brendan's eyes ; 

He bowed his head, he breathed a prayer. 
Then looked, and lo ! the frosty skies, 

The iceberg, and no Judas there ! 

Mathew Arnold's Poems. 
(With kind permission of JJacmillan & Co.) 


The Bocky Island of the Holy Hermit 
St. Paul. 

St. Brendan afterwards made sail for some time 
towards the south, in all things giving the glory to 
God. On the, third day a small island appeared at a 
distance, towards which as the brethren plied their oars- 
briskly, the saint said to them : " Do not, brothers,! 
thus exhaust your strength. Seven years will have} 
passed at next Easter, since we left our country, and 
now on this island you will see a holy hermit, called 
Paul the Spiritual, who has dwelt there for sixty years 
without corporal food, and who for twenty years pre- 
viously received his food from a certain animal." 

When they drew near the shore, they could find no 
place to land, so steep was the coast ; the island was 
small and circular, about a furlong in circumference, 
and on its summit there was no soil, the rock being 
quite bare. When they sailed around it, they found a 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. 169 

small creek, which scarcely admitted the prow of their 
boat, and from which the ascent was very difficult. 
St. Brendan told the brethren to wait there until he 
returned to them, for they should not enter the island 
without the leave of the man of God who dwells there. 
When the saint had ascended to the highest part of the 
island, he saw, on its eastern side, two caves opening 
opposite each other, and a small cup-like spring of water 
gurgling up from the rock, at the mouth of the cave 
in which the soldier of Christ dwelt. As St. Brendan 
approached the opening of one of the caves, the venerable 
hermit came forth from the other to meet him, greeting 
him with the words: "Behold how good and howl| 
(j pleasant for brethren to dwell together in unity.' " And 
then he directed St. Brendan to summon all the brethren 
from the boat. When they came he gave each of them 
the kiss of peace, calling him by his proper name, at 
which they all marvelled much, because of fehe prophetic 
spirit thus shown. They also wondered at his dress, 
for he was covered all over from head to foot with the 
hair of his body, which was white as snow from old 
age, and no other garment had he save this. 

St. Brendan, observing this, was moved to grief, and 

j heaving many sighs, said within himself : " Woe is 

j me, a poor sinner, who wear a monk's habit, and who 

j rule over many monks, when I here see a man of angelic 

; condition, dwelling still in the flesh, yet unmolested by 

the vices of the flesh. ,, On this, the man of God said : 

"Venerable father, what great and wonderful things 

has God shown to thee, which He has not revealed to 

our saintly predecessors ! and yet, ^ou §>^ m ^<3vsxV*»sX> 

170 Brendaniana. 

that you are not worthy to wear the habit of a monk ; 
I say to you, that you are greater than any monk, for 
the monk is fed and clothed by the labour of his own 
hands, while God has fed and clothed you and all your 
brethren for seven years in His own mysterious ways ; 
and I, wretch that I am, sit here upon this rock, 
without any covering, save the hair of my body." Then 
St. Brendan asked him about his coming to this island, 
whence he came, and how long he had led this manner 
of life. The man of God replied : •' For forty years I lived 
in the monastery of St. Patrick, and had the care of the 
cemetery. One day when the prior had pointed out to 
me the place for the burial of a deceased brother, there 
appeared before me an old man, whom I knew not, 
who said : ' Do not, brother, make the grave there, for 
that is the burial-place of another/ I said ' Who are 
you, father ?' 'Do you not know me? ' said he. ' Am 

I not y&ur abbot?' ■' St. Patrick is my abbot/ I said. 

I I am he,' he said; 'arid yesterday I departed this life, 
and this is my burial-place.' He then pointed out to 
me another place, saying*: 'Here you will inter our 
deceased brother ; but tell no one what I have said to 
you. Go down on to-morrow to the shore, and there 
you will find a. boat that will bear you to that place 
where you shall await the day of your death.' Next 
morning, in obedience to the directions of the abbot, 
I went to the place appointed, and found what he had 
promised. I entered the boat, and rowed along for 
three days and nights, and then I allowed the boat to 
drift whither the wind drove it. On the seventh day, 
this rock appeared, upon which I at once landed, and 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. 171 

I pushed off the boat with my foot, that it may return 
whence it had come, when it cut through the waves in 
a rapid course to the land it had left. 

" On the day of my arrival here, about the hour of none, * 
/a certain animal, walking on its hind legs, brought to \ 
I me in its fore-paws a fish for my dinner, and a bundle / 
Qi dry brushwood to make a fire, and having set these 
before me, went away as it came. I struck fire with a 
flint and steel, and cooked the fish for my meal ; and thus, 
, for thirty years, the same provider brought every third 
day the same quantity of food, one fish at a time, so 
that I felt no want of food or of drink either; for, 
thanks to God, every Sunday there flowed from the 
rock water enough to slake my thirst and to wash 

"After those thirty years I discovered these two caves / 
and this spring- well, on the waters of which I have! 
lived for sixty years, without any other nourishment \ 
whatsoever. For ninety years, therefore, I have dwelt 
on this island, subsisting for thirty years of these on fish, 
and for sixty years on the water of this spring. I had 
already lived fifty years in my own country, so that all the 
years of my life are now one hundred and forty; and for 
what may remain, I have to await here in the flesh the day 
of my judgment. Proceed now on your voyage, and 
carry with you water-skins full from this fountain, for 
you will want it during the forty days' journey remaining 
before Easter Saturday. That festival of Easter, and 
all the Paschal holidays, you will celebrate where you 
have celebrated them for the past six years, and after- 
wards, with a blessing from yo\n ^toexvT^ox^^csv^^s^ 

172 Brendaniana. 

proceed to that land you seek, the most holy of 
lands ; and there you will abide for forty days, aft 
which the Lord your God will guide you safely back 
the land of your birth." 


The Paradise of Delights. 

St. Brendan and his brethren, having received th 
blessing of the man of God, and having given mutuall 
the kiss of peace in Christ, sailed away towards th 
south during Lent, and the boat drifted about to an* 
fro, their sustenance all the time being the wate 
brought from the island, with which they refreshe* 
themselves every third day, and were glad, as they fel 
neither hunger nor thirst. On Holy Saturday thej 
' reached the island of their former procurator, who came 
to meet them at the landing-place, and lifted every one 
of them out of the boat in his arms. As soon as the 
divine offices of the day were duly performed, he set 
before them a repast. 

In the evening they again entered their boat with 
this man, and they soon discovered, in the usual place, 
the great whale, upon whose back they proceeded to sing 
the praises of the Lord all the night, and to say their 
Masses in the morning. When the Masses had con- 
cluded, Jasconius moved away, all of them being still 
on its back ; and the brethren cried aloud to the Lord : 
"Hear us, Lord, the God of our salvation. ,, But 
St. Brendan encouraged them : " Why are you alarmed ? 

The Voyage of St. Brendan. 173 

Fear not, for no evil shall befall us, as we have here 
only a helper on our journey." 

The great whale swam in a direct course towards the 
shore of the Paradise of Birds, where it landed them 
all unharmed, and on this island they sojourned until y/ 
the Octave of Pentecost. When that solemn season 
had passed, their procurator, who was.still with them, 
said to St. Brendan : " Embark now in your boat, and 
fill all the water-skins from the fountain. I will be the 
companion and the conductor of your journey hence- 
forth, for without my guidance you could not find the 
land you seek, the Land of Promise of the Saints." 
Then, while they were embarking, all the birds of the 
island, as soon as they saw St. Brendan, sung together 

r in concert : " May a happy voyage under his guidanc<K 
bring you safely to the island of your procurator.'/ 

' They took with them provisions for forty days, as their 
course lay to the west for that space of time ; during 
which the procurator went on before them, guiding 
their way, __ 

At the end of forty days, towards evening, a dense / 
cloud overshadowed them, so dark that they could 
scarce see one another. Then the procurator said to 
St. Brendan : " Do you know, father, what darkness is 
this ? " And the saint replied that he knew not. " This 
darkness," said he, " surrounds the island you have 
sought for seven years ; you will soon see that it is the 
entrance to it ;" and after an hour had elapsed a great 
light shone around them, and the boat stood by the 

, shore. 

When they had disembarked, ttary aaro ^\m^^^sw* 

174 Brendaniana. 

and thickly set with trees, laden with fruits, as in the 
autumn season. All the time they were traversing that 
land, during their stay in it, no night was there ; but a 
light always shone, like the light of the sun in the 
meridian, and for the forty days they viewed the land in 
various directions, they could not find the limits thereof. 
One day, however, they came to a large river flowing 
towards the middle of the land, which they could not by 
any means cross over. St. Brendan then said to the 
brethren: "We cannot cross over this river, and we 
must therefore remain ignorant of the size of this 
country." While they were considering this matter, a 
young man of resplendent features, and very handsome 
aspect, came to them, and joyfully embracing and 
addressing each of them by his own name, said : " Peace 
be with you, brothers, and with all who practise the 
peace of Christ. Blessed are they who dwell in Thy house, 
Lord ; they shall praise Thee for ever and ever." 

He then said to St. Brendan : " This is the land you 
have sought after for so long a time ; but you could not 
hitherto find it, because Christ our Lord wished first 
to display to you His divers mysteries in this immense 
ocean. Beturn now to the land of your birth, bearing 
with you as much of those fruits and of those precious 
stones, as your boat can carry ; for the days of your 
earthly pilgrimage must draw to a close, when you may 
rest in peace among your saintly brethren. After many 
years this land will be made manifest to those who come 
after you, when days of tribulation may come upon the 
people of Christ. The great river you see here divides 
this fond into two parts ; and just as it appears now, 


The Voyage of St Brendan. 175 

teeming with ripe fruits, so does it ever remain, without 
any blight or shadow whatever, for light unfailing shines 
thereon." When St. Brendan inquired whether this 
land would be revealed unto men, the young man replied : 
" When the Most High Creator will have brought all 
nations under subjection, then will this land be made 
known to all His elect." Soon after, St. Brendan, having 
received the blessing of this man, prepared for his return 
to his own country. He gathered some of the fruits of 
the land, and various kinds of precious stones ; and having 
taken a last farewell of the good procurator who had 
each year provided food for him and his brethren, he 
embarked once more, and sailed back through the 
darkness again. 

When they had passed through this, they reached the 
" Island of Delights," where they remained for three 
days, as guests in the monastery ; and then St. Brendan, 
with the abbot's paiting blessing, set sail in a direct 
course, under God's guidance, and arrived at his own 
monastery, where all his monks gave glory to God for 
the safe return of their holy patron, and learned from ' 
him the wonderful works of God, which be had seen or 
heard during his voyage. 

Afterwards he ended in peace the days of his life, on 
the nones of July, our Lord Jesus Christ reigning, whose 
kingdom and empire endure for ever and ever. Amen ! 


And now that fair youth leads them on, 
Where Paradise in beauty shone, 
And there they saw the land all full 
Of woods and rivers beautiM', 

176 Brendaniana. 

And meadows large, besprent with flowers, 

And scented shrubs in fadeless bowers, 

And trees with blossoms fair to see, 

And fruit also deliciously 

Hung from the boughs ; nor briar, nor thorn, 

Thistle, nor blighted tree forlorn 

With blackened leaf, was there, for spring 

Held aye a year-long blossoming ; 

And never shed their leaf the trees, 

Nor failed their fruit, and still the breeze 

Blew soft, scent-laden from the fields. 

Full were the woods of venison ; 

The rivers of good fish each one, 

And others flowed with milky tide 

(No marvel, all things fructified). 

The earth gave honey, oozing through 

Its pores, in sweet drops like the dew ; 

And in. the mount was golden ore, 

And gems and treasures wondrous store ; 

There the clear sun knew no declining, 

Nor fog nor mist obscured his shining ; 

No cloud across that sky did stray, 

Taking the sun's sweet light away ; 

Nor cutting blast, nor blighting air, 

For bitter winds blew never there ; 

Nor heat, nor frost, nor pain, nor grief, 

Nor hunger, thirst ; for swift relief 

For every ill was there ; plentfe 

Of every good right easily 

Each had according to his will, 

And aye they wandered blightly still, 

In large and pleasant pastures green, 

Oh ! such* as earth hath never seen ! 

And glad was Brendan, for their pleasure 

So wondrous was, that scant in measure 

Their past toils seemed, nor could they rest, 

But wandered aye in joyful quest 

Of somewhat fairer, and did go 

Hither and thither, to and fro, 

For very joyfulness ; and now 

They climb a mountain's lofty brow, 

And see afar a vision rare 

Of angels— I may not declare 

The Voyage of St Brendan. 177 

What there they saw, for words could ne'er 

The meaning tell ; and melodie 

Of that same heavenly company 

For joy that they beheld them there 

They heard, but could not bear its sweetness, 

Unless their natures greater meetness 

To that celestial place hath borne : — 

But they were whelm'd with joy. " Beturn," 

Said they, " we may not this sustain." 

Then spoke the youth in gentle strtfin. 

" Brendan, God unto thine eyes 

Hath granted sight of Paradise ; 

But know, it glories hath more bright 

Than ere hath dazed thy mortal sight ; 

One hundred thousand times more fair 

Are those abodes, but thou could'st ne'er 

The view sustain, nor the ecstacy 

Its meanest joys would yield to thee ; 

For thou hast in the body come, 

But, when the Lord shall call thee home, 

Thou, fitted then, a spirit, free 

From weakness and mortality, 

Shalt aye remain, no fleeting guest ; 

But taking here thy endless rest. 

And while thou still remainest below 

That heaven's high favour all may know, 

Take hence these stones, to teach all eyes 

That thou hast been in Paradise." 

Anglo-Norman Trouvere. 

st Brendan's return. 

We were about to cross its placid tide, 

When, lo ! an angel on our vision broke, 
Clothed in white, upon the further side 

He stood majestic, and thus sweetly spoke : 
44 Father, return, thy mission now is o'er; 

God, who did call thee here, now bids thee go, 
Return in peace unto thy native shore 

And tell the mighty secrets thou dost know. 

" In after years, in God's own fitting time, 
This pleasant land again shall re-appear ; 

And other men shall preach ttifc taim* «ofe&a&& 
To the benighted peoples &we\\\Tt&Ykgte. 

178 Brendaniana. 

But 6re that hour, this land shall all be made, 
For mortal man, a fitting, natural home, 

Then shall the giant mountain fling its shade, 
And the strong rock stem the white torrent's foam. 

" Seek thy own isle —Christ's newly-bought domain, 

Which Nature with an emerald pencil paints : 
Such as it is, long, long shall it remain, 
* The School of Truth, the College of the Saints, 

The student's bower, the hermit's calm retreat, 
• The stranger's home, the hospitable hearth, 

The shrine to which shall wander pilgrim feet 
From all the neighbouring nations of the earth. 

" But in {he end upon that land shall fall 

A bitter scourge, a lasting flood of tears, 
When ruthless tyranny shall level all 

The pious trophies of its early years : 
Then shall this land prove thy poor country's friend, 

And shine a second Eden in the west ; 
Then shall this shore its friendly arms extend, 

And clasp the outcast exile to its breast." 

He ceased, and vanished from our dazzled sight, 

While harps and sacred hymns rang sweetly o'er ; 
For us again we winged our homeward flight 

O'er the great ocean to our native shore. 
And, as a proof of God's protecting hand, 

And of the wondrous tidings that we bear, 
The fragrant perfume of that heavenly land 

Clings to the garments that we wear. 

D. Fl. McCarthy's " Voyage of St. Brendan: 9 



I propose to give here an English translation of that 
portion of the Vita Sti. Brendani, published an 
Cardinal Moran's Acta Sti. Brendani, which relates 
incidents in the life of the saint after his famous voyages 
on the ocean. The earlier portion of this Latin Life is 
substantially a translation of the Betha Brenainn (Irish 
Life), narrating the same incidents, in the same order, 
and in almost equivalent terms, that have been already 
related in my translation of the biographical portion of 
this Irish Life ; and I will therefore, to avoid tiresome 
repetition, omit the translation of that part of the Vita. 
The text of this Latin version was printed from the 
fine copy in what is called the Codex Kilkenniensis, " a 
most valuable repertory," Cardinal Moran tells us, " of 
the Lives of our early saints, which is now preserved 
in Marsh's Library, Dublin/ ' and which is supposed to 
have been written in the thirteenth century. The late 
Dr. Eeeves, in a paper read by him before the Koyal 
Irish Academy, in January, 1875, proves that this 
important collection of Lives of Irish saints was really 
the Codex Armachanus referred to and quoted by Fathers 
Fleming and Colgan, under that title ; that it had for a 
time belonged to Archbishop Usher ; and that it received 
its present name within the past generation from a 
gentleman who mistook it for anottifcx^^.oftfc^^*^ 

180 Brendaniana. 

as the Liber Kilkenniemis, by our Irish hagiographers. 
There is a MS. volume in the Library of Trinity College, 
Dublin, classed E. 3, 11, which Dr. Beeves shows to have 
been almost identical with the Codex Armachanus, or 
Kilkenniensis, as far as its subject-matter goes ; but 
this seems to be only a fragment, for many lives are 
omitted that are contained in the Codex. It had belonged 
to the house of Canons Eegular on "All Saints Island," 
in Loughree, near the Longford shore of the Shannon, 
when the famous scholar and scribe, Augustin 
MacGradin, who died in a.d. 1405, was Canon Prior 
there. It is very probable, as Dr. Keeves suggests, that 
both these MSS. had been copied from a larger com- 
pilation of the Lives of Irish saints of a much earlier 
date, which is not now known to exist. At what period 
such a compilation may have been first made, and at 
what time the various Lives embodied therein may have 
been written, it is, I fear, now impossible to ascertain. 
No doubt those Lives were composed at various dates, 
and by different authors, some of them coming down from 
an early period, while others were some centuries later. 
I believe that the Vita Sti. Brendani, of which we have 
the most complete copy known to exist, in the Codex, 
from which Cardinal Moran published it, may be 
contemporaneous with, if not anterior to, the Navigation 
the earliest known copy of which dates from the ninth 

In this Latin Life of Brendan we find incidents of 
the later history of the saint, more in detail than in any 
other ancient account that has come down to us. The 
Irish version of the Life, as far as it is known to exist, 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 181 

does not touch on that period of his life at all ; and other 
Latin versions, such as those in the Codex Salmanticensis* 
lately edited by the Bollandist Fathers, from the % MS. 
in the Burgundian Library, Brussels, are apparently 
mere abridgments of this Vita or of the Navigatio, of 
which I have given a translation in the preceding pages. 
But though this Life of the saint be the most detailed 
accourtt of his later history that is now accessible, it is, 
alas ! only a very meagre and fragmentary one, furnish- 
ing but a shadowy and imperfect outline of the holy 
life and apostolic labours of St. Brendan. It seems to 
consist of " scraps and gatherings " from dim and con- 
fused popular traditions, strung together very much at 
haphazard, sometimes without chronological order or 
sequence of incidents, and probably committed to writing 
after some centuries had elapsed. This was, no doubt, 
inevitable with regard to the histories of many of our 
early saints, even when their lives were written soon 
after their demise, like that of St. Columba, by one of 
bis successors, Adamnan ; for in the waste and wreck of 
ages, many such memorials have been completely lost, 
leaving nothing to us but vague and confused traditions, 
such as those strung together in this Vita Sti. Brendani. 
In my translation, I will follow the division into 
chapters or sections, with the titles thereof, as given 
in Cardinal Moran's edition ; and I will append, beeween 
brackets, to each section any reference to its subject- 
matter that I have been able to glean from other 
sources within my reach, such as may help to elucidate 
or supplement it. I will commence with. Chapters 
XI.-XIL, wherein the "Voyage" \a mfei&\ttu&» 


Xl.-XII. St. Brendan, after his Beturn from his 
Voyage, founds many Monasteries, in which 
Three Thousand Beligious serve God under 
his Bule. 

When St. Brendan had been ordained a priest by 
St. Ere, he then received the holy habit of a monk ; and 
many persons, forsaking the world, came to him from 
various directions, to be admitted by him to the 
monastic life. After some time he founded oratories 
and monastic houses in his native district, though not 
many at that period ; but when he returned from his 
voyage in quest of the " Land of Promise of the Saints," 
his religious foundations were widely extended through 
many parts of Ireland. It was then that many persons 
brought large offerings to St. Brendan, in the name of 
Christ ; and many others, relinquishing their worldly 
possessions, were received into the religious life, by 
the man of God, who founded divers oratories and 
monasteries in many parts of Ireland, in which, as our 
elders relate, three thousand monks were under his rule. 
And he made his own father a monk, and his mother a 
consecrated widow. 
Meanwhile the saint had visited his foster-mother, 

The Latin Life of St Brendan. 183 

St. Ita, who welcomed him most tenderly, with an 
affectionate embrace, and who received great mental 
recreation from the recital of the marvellous things he 
had seen on the ocean. Soon after the saint took his 
departure from her, with mutual benedictions. 

He proceeded to a place called Inis-da-dromand, 
which lies in a northern estuary of the lower Shannon, 
the river flowing between the countries of Corcabaiscin 
(West Clare) and Kerry ; and there he founded a famous 
monastery, where, within a brief period, seven members 
of the community died in the odour of sanctity, about 
whose sacred relics the mortuary chapel of that place 
was erected. 

About the same time the saint gave his blessing to 
fifty streams in various districts, which had been fish- 
less, and thenceforth, through the blessing of the man 
of God, they abounded in fish. In the course of time 
he passed into the pvpvince of Connaught, where land 
was granted to him, whereon he founded the famous 
city of Clonfert, in which he was interred. 

[Among the religious houses founded by St. Brendan 
" in his native district/ ' before his famous voyages, we 
may mention the monastery of Ardfert-Brendan, pro- 
bably the earliest of all his foundations. He was 
ordained priest by St. Ere, about 510, and admitted by 
him soon after to his religious profession as monk, 
when, as the text states, " many persons, forsaking the 
world came to him from various directions, to be 
admitted to the monastic life." To receive and accom- 
modate those postulants of the religious ^te^^&fcNJcaa* 

184 Brendaniana. 

crowded to him, he founded his first monastery, pro- 
bably under St. Erc's guidance, on a site not far from 
that saint's own sanctuary at Lerrig (Tarmuin-Eirc, 
. for which see page 38, supra). This site, as a local 
tradition tells, was on the table-land forming the back 
of the limestone ridge that runs for some miles through 
the plains of the present Clanmaurice, on which there are 
traces of an old pagan cemetery and of some very early 
Christian foundations also. The name of one of the 
townlands on this ridge, Kileacle-, as it is commonly 
called; or, in the older and correct form, Kilkeacle, 
belonged to one of those primitive Christian oratories 
(the cell or church of Caochal, of whom tradition is 
otherwise silent) that may have existed there before 
St. Brendan's time. Here our saint and his monks 
were laying down the lines of the new monastery — 
marking off the cells, enclosure, &c, according to a 
written plan or sketch which one of the brethren had 
g^ced beside him on the ground, when suddenly a large 
bird flew past, bearing in its beak the paper on which 
the plan was traced, towards Ardfert about a mile distant 
on the south, where it dropped the scroll on the ard or 
high ground, where Ardfert Cathedral now stands. 
This, according to the tradition, was accepted by 
St. Brendan as an intimation of the heavenly will that 
his new monastery should be founded there, and not on 
the ground first chosen, and he accordingly founded his 
proto-monastery at Ardfert-Brendan. This was, no 
doubt, a more eligible site for a religious house, in every 
respect, than the elevated situation on the Kilkeacle 
ridge, for it was more accessible, and had an abundant 
supply of water for all purposes in the river Thyse, 
that flowed at the base of the ard, as well as 
in the great fountain of purest spring water, ever 
since known as Brandon- Well, that sends forth its 

The Latin Life of St Brendan. 185 

copious streams at a short distance to the west of 

Another foundation of the saint, "in his native 
district," was at Kilfinoora, a townland adjoining 
Fenit, where he was born, in which there are at present 
the remains of a large mediaeval church, which in an 
ancient map of the locality is marked Kilmore (great 
church). Here there are vestiges of an earlier founda- 
tion, which bore the name Kilfinora, or the Church of 
Finabhair, which I surmise was the name of Brendan 
in an alias form, for the best interpretation we have of 
the old Gaelic word Finabhair, is that given by an 
excellent Irish scholar, the late Mr. O'Beirne Crowe — 
viz., " Bright Gleam, " which may have been aptly 
applied to St. Brendan, because of those " bright 
gleams " that shone over the home of his parents on 
the night of 'his birth, as 'all his Lives tell us. How- 
ever this may be, it is a singular fact that the site and 
surrounding district of this ancient church, though in 
the centre of another parish, belonged from the earliest 
times, as they do at present in ecclesiastical mearings, 
to the cathedra] parish of Ardfert, and were apportioned, 
with the revenues of that parish, among the dignitaries 
of the cathedral down to a recent period. I would infer 
from this that ancient Kilfinora had early and close 
relations with Ardfert-Brendan, and had very probably 
been founded by St. Brendan, in connection with that 
monastery, and about the same time. 

We find this name Finabhair borne by another early 
foundation of the saint in or near " his native district " 
— namely, the monastery at Shanakeel (old church), or 
Ballynavenoorah (Homestead of Finabhair), on the 
western slopes of Brandon-Hill, of which I have written 
in a Note on the Irish Life (supra, page 75), and which 
was certainly founded before bis i&mo\&& ^cpj^Jga^ ^* 

186 Brendaniana. 

this period* we may attribute also the erection of a very 
primitive oratory on Inistuascairt, one of the Blasquet 
islands, the remains of which are still known as those 
of St. Brendan's oratory. There is a dim tradition that 
he founded also the ancient " Laura," or group of early 
monastic cells, known as Kilabounia, in the Glen, 
parish of Kilemlagh, barony of Iveragh, and that he 
occasionally visited his religious establishment there, 
sailing in his currach, across Dingle Bay, from his 
island oratory in the Blasquet s. On one of those visits, 
when his little corracle neared the coast of Valentia 
•Island, he was suddenly hailed by a man on the cliffs, 
imploring him to attend two persons who were dying 
without the sacraments. This story will be found, as 
local tradition has it, in the " Legend of the Well of 
Brendan's anointing," further on in this volume. I am 
inclined to think that this most interesting ancient 
" Laura," of Kilabounia, was founded at a later time, 
not by St. Brendan himself, but by one of his early 
disciples, St. Beoanus, whose name occurs in the Visions 
of St. Fursey, in conjunction with that of St. Meldan, 
another early disciple of St. Brendan. 

Of the many religious foundations made by St. 
Brendan after his great voyage, within " his wide- 
spread jurisdiction " (" parochia ejus dilatata," in Latin 
text) " through many parts of Ireland," we have very 
scant record, even of their names. The only founda- 
tion of his mentioned here is that at Inisdadronumd 
(the island of the two ridges), an island in that great 
estuary of the Shannon, which receives the waters of 
the Biver Fergus. It is now called Inisdadroum, and 
is shown on the Ordnance maps under that name, as 
containing nearly five statute acres. There is within 
this estuary a much larger island, named Coney Island 
on the maps, containing over two \i\x*adted and forty- 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 187 

four statute acres, on which there are still some 
remains of religious foundations, described in one of 
the Ordnance Survey letters in the Eoyal Irish Academy 
collection as " the ruins of a church on .the south side 
which is not very ancient, as it has a pointed doorway 
in the south wall, and another more ancient church on 
the east side." This island is said by the writer of 
this letter to be the Inisdadromand of St. Brendan's 
foundation ; and I notice that Dr. Healy, in his learned 
Ancient Schools and Scholars, adopts this view. It is 
possible that the small island that still bears the name 
may have been the earliest site of the monastery 
which, in the course of time, was transferred to the 
larger and more commodious one, now called Coney 
Island. This monastery must have been from the first 
a remarkable centre of religious life and missionary 
enterprise, as we may infer from the edifying notice of 
these seven great saints among its monks, who died 
there soon after its foundation, and were specially 
honoured by the mortuary chapel or cemetery (Uvi- 
ciana, in Latin text) erected to receive their sacred 

Of the histories of those great saints, even of their 
names, I can find no trace whatever. Another indication 
of the eminent repute of this religious house, we find in 
the account of its foundation, given in the life of 
Brendan, in the Codex Salmanticensis, referred to above : 
" When Brendan came to the island DaDromand, he 
founded a house there, and thence thoroughout wide 
districts of Munster the saving seed of holy faith was 
sown by him ; on every side the heavenly trumpet of the 
Gospel loudly resounded; the religion of Christ was 
firmly planted ; monasteries are founded, and the miracles 
of saintly men and holy virgins shine resplendent 
(coruscant, in text) . ' ' Thexe ia no Tfe*&o\i to tas&& *^a^ 

188 Brendaniana. 

about this period St. Brendan laboured as a zealous and 
devoted missionary in several parts of Munster, and 
founded many churches and monasteries in various 
districts thereof, within which it is no exaggeration to 
state, as our text does, that three thousand monks 
lived in religious obedience under his rule. Of some of 
those foundations of the saint we find traces still 
remaining ; for instance, in Cork, near the city,* " on the 
north side of the river, beside the road leading to 
Youghal, where there is still a burial-ground," there was 
an ancient church, dedicated to St. Brendan, which 
may have been the scene of his early missionary labours. 
Also in the diocese of Cork there are two parish churches, 
viz., Kilmoe and Canaway, according to Dr. Smith, 
dedicated to the same saint, and probably for a similar 

In Clare, not far from the banks of the Fergus, near 
Ennis, we find notice of another foundation of the 
saint's, namely, at Dubhdoire, now Doora, according to 
O'Curry, an extensive parish in that county : " Brendan 
MacFinloga was at his church in Dubhdoire in 
Thomond. His nearest neighbour on the north was 
Dobharcha, chief of the Ui Dobharcon (now O'Liddies). 
This man had a grass field or meadow near Loch Lir, 
into which Brendan's cows strayed to graze, and 
Dobharcha killed them for the trespass. When this was 
told to Brendan, he waxed indignant, and prayed, if it 
were God's will, that this wicked tyrant should suffer 
condign punishment."} This befell him soon after, 
when he was drowned in that lake, on the borders of 
which he had killed Brendan's cows. The church at 
Dubhdoire was founded about the same time as the 
monastery on luisdadromand, and may have been in 

* Smith's Cork, vol. i , pajre 281. 

t O'Cnrry's Extracts from Bet ham Jf«s., vol. v., R, Irish Academy. 


TJu Latin Life of Si* Brendan. 189 

connection with it, as the places are not fa* apart. 
Another church in Clare, farther north than Doora, 
namely, Kilfinora, the cathedral church of the ancient 
see of that name, was, I surmise, also founded originally 
by St. Brendan, in one of his early missionary visita 
to that district, though it may have been afterwards 
•dedicated to St. Fiachna, or Fachanan, who was a 
special friend of St. Brendan's, as I will show further 
on, and who may have been associated with him in 
some of his missionary labours in north Clare. I am 
disposed to attribute this foundation to St. Brendan, 
from its name— Kilfinoora — meaning the church or cell 
of Finabhar ("Bright Gleam"), which, as I explained 
before, gave the name to a townland and to an ancient 
church in Kerry, probably borrowed from an alias 
name of Brendan. Whatever may be thought of this 
explanation of the name of this venerable church of 
Kilfinora — and I am not aware that any better one has 
been suggested — we certainly have some vestiges of 
St. Brendan's visits to the neighbourhood oT that church 
in the magnificent well or rush of water, near Lisdoon- 
varna, a few miles from Kilfinora, which at some early 
period was dedicated to the saint, and still bears his 
name. This "Brendan's Well" and "Brendan's 
Bridge," which spans the fine stream of purest water 
issuing therefrom, remind us that the " name and 
fame " of the great Voyager, St. Brendan, were familiar 
as household words within the borders of ancient 
Kilfinora ; and perhaps this fine stream, springing from 
Brendan's well, and wending its course through the 
curious gullies of that district, was one of the " fifty 
streams," of which the legend recorded in the text tells, 
that shared in Brendan's blessing, and thus " abounded 
in fish." . 

Of the after history of the mona&terj oi Axv\^&xssca 

190 Brendaniana. 

there is no vestige in our Annals or ancient records, as 
far as I can discover ; but from the fervour of its early 
members, amongst whom those " seven great saints/ 1 
whose relics were enshrined on the island, lived and 
died, and the signal success of their missionary labours 
under St. Brendan's guidance, as indicated above, we 
may surmise that it continued to flourish long after 
St. Brendan's time, and for many centuries was a centre 
of religious life and literary culture to many districts of 
Munster, bordering on the Shannon. We read in the 
Life of St. Senan, that before he founded his great 
monastery and school at Iniscathy, he founded a 
religious house at Inismore, which is the large island in 
the Fergus estuary of the Shannon, now called Canon 
Island, not far from Inis-da~droman of St. Brendan's 
foundation. Those religious houses were probably still 
flourishing when the Danes, in one of their earliest 
descents upon our western coasts, swept up the Shannon, 
and, after ravaging the islands and coasts along the 
river, established themselves in Limerick. From this 
vantage-ground they frequently made excursions to 
plunder the " sacred isles," that were so numerous in 
the Shannon, above as well as below Limerick ; and 
they not only plundered them, but seized permanent 
possession of many of them. Among other " sacred 
isles " of which the Danes had thus taken possession 
were Iniscathy, Inismore, and Inisdadroman, and here 
in their sore straits, after their great defeat by Mahoun, 
the brother of Brian Boromha, towards the end of the 
tenth century, when the power of the Danes of Limerick 
was completely broken, they took refuge, " entrenching 
themselves in Scattery Island as their headquarters, 
concealing their women and children in the smaller and 
more remote islands."* Thither the vengeance of Brian* 
* " Wan of the Gaedhill with, the GwHl," gixviL 

Tlie Latin Life of St. Brendan. 191 

for the murder of his brother Mahoun, pursued them, 
and the O'Donnellsof Corcabaiscin (West Clare), by his 
orders, attacked Iniscathy, slew the leaders of the 
Danes there, plundered that island, as well as Inismore 
and Inisdadroman, and other islands of the " har- 
bour/ ' * in which were the women and children of the 
foreigners, and in which they found a "great spoil of 
gold, silver, and wealth of various kinds.' ' This was 
surely a righteous retribution for the ravages and sacri- 
leges those "foreigners/' wrought upon the sacred 
shrines and inhabitants of those islands for many years ; 
and if any of the inmates of the religious houses there 
still survived, they may have rejoiced that " God had 
indeed arisen, and that his enemies were scattered." 

The monastery had been destroyed long before this, 
and remained ruined and desolate for many years ; but 
upon its site, or near it, was afterwards erected a 
mediaeval parish church, the remains of which are noticed 
in the Ordnance Survey letter referred to in a previous 
page.t Of this church we find a record in the 
"Taxation" of the diocese of Killaloe (1301-7) as 
follows : — " Church of Inisdadruma (Island f in the 
Fergus;. Valor 10/." It now belongs to the parish of 
Killadysert, barony of Clonderalaw.] 

XIII. — St. Brendan miraculously Frees the Town 
of Bri-uys, in Kerry, from a Pest of Insects. 

Once upon a time, St. Brendan, when on a journey in 
the plain of West Munster (Kerry), came to the town 
or stronghold of Bri-uys, in the district of Cliath, over 

* The Lower Shannon was called the harbour of Iixoexfck. 
t See page 187 tupra. 

192 Brendaniana. 

against the " Hill of the Swine," and tarried there one 
night. . The inhabitants made a bitter complaint to 
him of the pest of insects with which the place was 
infested beyond measure. Then the saint prayed to 
the Almighty God that the inhabitants of that town 
might be freed from this pest which was so hurtful to 
them, and at his prayer the pest at once abated, and 
soon afterwards ceased altogether; so that from that 
day to this none of these insects can live in that 

[The plain referred to in the text was the south plain 
of Kerry (Magh Deisceart), of which Kathass, near 
Tralee, was the centre, separated from the north plain 
(Magh Tuaisceart, whence Eathoo) by a range of low 
hills, starting from near Fenit on the west, and running 
eastward through the heart of ancient Kerry into 
Slieveluachra, near Brosna. From this range, near its 
rise on the west, was thrown out like a spur a short 
hillock which terminates abruptly over the south plain, 
within a few miles of Tralee. On the brow of this 
hillock was Bri-uys (the hill of the fawn), now called 
Knockanuishy a word of the same meaning, on the site 
of which can be easily traced at present the ambits of 
three large forts, or cathairs, quite close to each other 
on the plateau which overhangs the plain, on which lay 
the regip, or district of Cliath, with the " Hill of the 
Swine" (now Knochw.mucaJ.-igh) on the other side. 
This "regio Cliath " is referred to by St. Aengus 
Cele-De, in his tract " On the Mothers of Irish Saints," 
as Altraighe Cliath, within which lived Mor, the sister 
of St. David of Menevia, and her husband, End or Ere, 
who were the parents of three gceat Kerry saints — 


The Latin Life of St Brendan. 193 

namely, SS. Sedna, Gobban, and Eltin. This would 
show that the " district of Cliath " was that portion of 
the south plain which lay around Tralee, and extended 
westwards towards Knock-anuish and the Spa, for that 
was the Altraighe, the sept land of the Ua Alta, from 
whom St. Brendan sprung. Here, therefore, the saint 
was on his journey, when he tarried for the night at 
Bri-uys, where the inhabitants had reason to complain 
of the pest, from which he charitably relieved them. 
It is interesting and edifying to note that the saint, 
notwithstanding his many missionary labours through- 
out Munster at this period, and the care and superin- 
tendence of so many religious houses elsewhere, had 
found time to visit his spiritual children in Kerry, and 
probably he was on his way to his monasteries at 
Ardfert and West Corcaguiney on this occasion.] 

XIV — One of St. Brendan's Monhs through 
Obedience exposes Himself to Death. 

One day St. Brendan sailed to the above-mentioned 
island, Da Dromand, and left his boat at the shore, in 
charge of a young monk. When the sea rose very high* 
the brother of this monk said to St. Brendan : " Holy 
father, the tide is running very strongly, and is taking 
away the boat from the shore ; it will soon drown my 
brother, and he will perish. ,, Whereupon St. Brendan, 
moved to impatience, replied : " Do you love this brother 
more than I do ? If you think so, and desire to show 
more compassion for him than I have, go to him now, 
and die in his stead/' The brother went at once to the 
place of danger, in a spirit of obefoevicte, wA ?to&&kh&* 

194 Brendaniana. 

the sea rose up about him on every side, and he was 
drowned ; but the young monk, his brother, was saved, 
for the sea was like a wall about him, as it had been 
to Moses in the Bed Sea. Subsequently St. Brendan 
conceived a great fear of the Lord, on account of the 
death of this monk, judging himself responsible for it, 
and he asked the advice of saintly men on the subject. 
Their advice was that he should go to his foster-mother, 
St. Ita, who was inspired by God with a prophetic 
spirit, and she would declare to him what he ought to 
do. St. Ita then advised him to go on a pilgrimage for 
some time, to atone for his fault regarding this brother's 
death, and to preach the Gospel elsewhere, so as to lead 
other souls to Christ. 

[There is no trace of this gruesome story of the monk 
going to his death through obedience to a hasty com- 
mand of St. Brendan's in the Latin Life of the saint, 
as we find it in the Codex Salmanticensis, where it tells 
of his mission to Britain. This Life, after recounting 
in the terms I quoted above, the extraordinary success 
of the saint's missionary labours in Munster, after 
founding the monastery at Inis-da-dromand, imme- 
diately adds that " he (Brendan) by the advice of his 
foster-mother, St. Ita, went forth into Britain, with a 
holy company of disciples, in order that he may win 
unto the Lord foreign peoples also." The whole story, 
circumstantial as it is, was probably an afterthought of 
some of his admirers who wished to give the merit of a 
penitential pilgrimage to his missionary journeys in 
Britain ; and, perhaps, to show the special tenderness 
of the conscience of the saint, who sought to expiate 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 195 

even an involuntary fault by *&, severe and laborious 
penance. We are told that religious writers often have 
a curious instinct to throw " double shades of dark- 
ness " upon some passages in the lives of the saints 
they write about, " in order to bring out more brightly 
the lights of the after picture." Hence may have come 
this strange passage in Brendan's Life, which is quite 
analogous to the story of St. Columba's " quarrel with 
King Diarmuid," as the cause of his exile from Ireland, 
which has been pronounced by good authority to be 
" an ill-constructed and inconsistent fable." 

It is much to be regretted that of this period of 
St. Brendan's life, which was occupied in his mis- 
sionary labours and journeys " in many parts of 
Munster," after his return from his famous voyages, 
until his mission to Britain, we have very meagre 
notice in his Latin Life, nor can the deficiency be 
supplied from any other source that I have access to. 
He was then in the vigour of his manhood, approach- 
ing his fortieth year, when he returned from his voyages, 
soon after A.D. 520, and he must have spent many years 
in the great work of establishing and consolidating the 
many religious houses he founded at that time. It was 
the golden prime of religious zeal and fervour among 
the holy men and women who then laboured for the 
sanctification of the tribes and the peoples of Munster. 
In the lives of some of those saints, who were contem- 
poraries of St. Brendan, and who were fellow-workers 
of his in those apostolic labours, we meet an occasional 
reference to him. We are told that St. Fachtna (or 
Fachanan) of Boss-ailithir, who, like St. Brendan, had 
been fostered and trained to a holy life by St. Ita of 
Killeedy, was a special friend of his, and when he 
established his church and monastic school at Broafe* 
about a.d. 530, St. Brendan became one ol >Jne wc&srX. 

196 Brendaniana. 

and most distinguished professors there, and t 
his great name contributed much "to the eclat ti 
school at Boss had attained, even in St. Fachtna 

The relations of St. Brendan with St. Senan wei 
also very cordial and intimate. When this great sail 
had founded his first monastery in Munster, at Iniscarn 
on the Biver Lee, within a few miles of Cork, we rea 
that a ship arrived at that port in which, among othe 
pilgrims to Ireland, " there were fifty religious Bomam 
who had come through a desire of a more penitentia 
life and of the study of the Scriptures, then flourishing 
in the Irish monastic schools, and wluo wished to plac 
themselves under the guidance of holy men, who wer« 
famed for the sanctity of their lives and the observanc 
of religious discipline." This happened about the tim< 
that Brendan was assisting St. Fachtna in establishing 
his great school at Boss ; and when St. Senan tool 
charge of ten of those fifty pilgrims to the shrines o 
holiness and sacred learning in Ireland, we are tolc 
that St. Brendan received another ten of them into his 
monasteries, while the remainder were sent to three 
other famous schools in other parts of Ireland. Soob 
after St. Senan founded another monastery at Inismore^ 
in the estuary of the Shannon, as I have stated above, 
to which he may have been attracted by its proximity 
to St. Brendan's foundation on the neighbouring island 
of Dadroma?id, and where he may have cultivated 
more intimate relations with his saintly friend. 

When St. Senan had founded his greatest church and 
monastic school at Iniscathy, lower down in the Shannon, 
we are told in his Life that he was visited there by 
St. Brendan and St. Kieran of Clonmacnoise, who had 
chosen him as their anmchara, or spiritual director ; 
on which occasion, when the supply of food in the 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 197 

house was not abundant, a grand feast was miraculously 
provided for his visitors. 

It was probably at this period that St. Brendan 
founded a church not far from Lorrha, in North 
Tipperary, where St. Euadhan afterwards founded his 
famous monastery ; of which we have some notice in 
the Life of this saint in the Codex Salmanticenais, 
already referred to. It is as follows : — "St. Brendan Mac 
Ua Alta had fixed a house for himself in a place called 
Tidach-Brendan, not far from St. Euadhan's monastery, 
and the sound of the bell from one house used to be 
heard at the other. When Brendan learned this, he 
said : ' St. Euadhan and I ought not to dwell so close to 
each other. I will therefore withdraw, and leave this 
place to St. Euadhan ;' andBrendan went away from that 
district, and afterwards founded his city of Clonfert. 
Then St. Euadhan blessed him for this, and prophesied 
that the city he founded would be no less great and 
powerful than his own at Lorrha." 

This story suggests very friendly relations between 
those saints, of which we will give some other indica- 
tions later on.] 

XV. — St. Brendan goes on a Pilgrimage to Britain. 

He Visits St. Gildas. 
Soon after St. Brendan set sail on his pilgrimage to 
Britain, and went to visit the most holy senior, Gildas, 
a very wise man who dwelt there, the fame of whose 
tanctity was very great. Before the saint had arrived 
at the monastery, St. Gildas told his monks to prepare 
a repast for certain zealous labourers in the Lord's vine- 
yard who would be their guests on that day, assuring 
them that they should then see a. fcfc&oxA. ^\»^^st*Sfca> 

198 Brendaniana. 

Apostle, again in the flesh in the person of this father, 
who was a tireless worker for the Lord, but whose 
virtue and power with God he wished to put to some 
trial, in order that he may know that the fault on 
account of which he came hither had been already 
pardoned by God. Then he directed the door porter 
to secure the outer door with iron bolts until it was 
opened by the divine power. 

It was during the winter season, in the third year of 
his pilgrimage, that St. Brendan arrived at the monas- 
tery, and snow had fallen copiously so as to cover the 
ground, but none of it fell on St. Brendan or his 
disciples while they waited before the barred door. 
The door porter, noticing this from within, calls out 
to them : " Come in at once, and let your own merits 
open the door unto you." Whereupon St. Brendan 
directed his disciple Talmach* to open the door for 
them in the name of Christ ; and when he, in obedience, 
put forth his hand towards the door, the bolts at once 
flew back, and were no longer visible. They then 
entered, and went towards the church of the monas- 
tery, the doors of which were closed against them in 
like manner ; but St. Brendan knowing that this was 
done as a trial of his virtue, only placed his hand on 
the folding door, and said : "Oh, church of Christ, my 
true mother, open unto me;" instantly the seals or 
locks were broken, and the church lay open before 

• Colgan has a notice of this disciple of St. Brendan's at February 

26th. Acta SS. H\b., page 414. He probably was the same Talmach 

who afterwards become a disciple of St. Finbarr's, of whom it is stated 

in the life of that saint, chap, x., that " Talmach gave his church to God 

sndto Barre, " when he was, no doubt, very ato«na<&vfcM*. 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 199 

them, when they went at once into the choir. Here 
St. Gildas had a missal written in Greek characters, 
and this was placed on the altar for use at Mass. Then 
the sacristan said to St. Brendan, by order of St. Gildas : 
" Man of God, our father abbot commands you to offer 
the holy sacrifice ; here is the altar prepared, and a 
missal in Greek letters, in which you are to read the 
Mass, as our abbot does." When St. Brendan opened 
the missal he prayed : " Grant unto me, Lord Jesus, 
a knowledge of those unknown letters, as Thou hast by 
Thy power opened these doors that were barred against 
us." * Truly all things are possible to the true believer, 
for St. Brendan knew at once those Greek characters 
as well as he did the Latin ones he had learned from 
his infancy. 

He then proceeded to say Mass, and St. Gildas him- 
self and all his monks came to the church to receive 
Holy Communion from his hands ; but St. Gildas saw 
the real flesh of Christ on the patena, and the real 
precious blood in the chalice ; and alarmed at this vision, 
he said : " Why have I brought this judgment of the 
Lord upon myself by making trial of your virtue, man 
of God ? " Then St. Brendan told him that his prayer 
would guard him from any punishment, especially as 
his trial of the pilgrims of Christ should now cease. 
St. Brendan then offered a prayer, and the body of 
Christ appeared in its usual species on the patena, and 
the precious blood in the species of wine in the chalice ; 
whereupon all the holy men received Holy Communion 
and made fervent thanksgiving. St. BrendanremaicLei 
at the monastery three days and nig)ciW 

200 Brendaniana. 

[The date of St. Brendan's mission or pilgrimage to 
Britain is a matter for conjecture, but we will not be 
far astray in placing it about a.d. 540, thus allowing 
fifteen years or more for the period of his apostolic 
labours throughout Munster, of which we catch some 
shadowy glimpses in those few meagre notices I have 
given above. We have no account of his journey to 
Britain, nor of his peregrinations there, until hei arrived 
at the monastery of St. Gildas, as stated in the text, 
which gives so curious and interesting a description of 
his reception. St. Gildas, surnamed the Wise (Sapien- 
tissimus in the text), was one of the most illustrious 
saints of Cymric Britain or Wales, who co-operated 
with St. Patrick and his successors in the work of 
evangelizing and sanctifying their Celtic brethren in 
Ireland. Many such devoted missionaries came over 
with St. Patrick himself, and laboured under his 
guidance in that holy work during his life, and after his 
death the supply of such zealous helpers from Wales 
was more abundant still, for many holy priests and 
laymen sought refuge in Ireland from the ruin and 
devastation wrought upon their country by the invading 
hordes of pagan Saxons, who were then ravaging with 
fire and sword the length and breadth of ancient 

The historian of that period gives us a mournful 
picture of the terrible thoroughness of this onslaught 
on the Catholic faith, and on the homes of the Britons. 
" It was in vain that some sought shelter within their 
churches, for the rage of the invaders seemed to have 
burned most fiercely against the clergy; the priests 
were slain at the altar, the churches fired, and the 
people who sought refuge there were driven by the 
flames to fling themselves on a ring of pitiless steel 
that hemmed them in on every side." ^o trctcu3&£ that 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 201 

from this ruthless havoc bands of fugitives came pour- 
ing into the shores of Ireland in a constant stream for 
some generations after St. Patrick's time : " Hoary 
priests and consecrated virgins and tender children : 
ecclesiastics bearing the relics of the saints; women 
flying from worse than death ;" all claimed and received 
from their Irish brethren in the faith the welcome and 
solace they needed so sorely, while their presence 
brought with it a rich harvest of religion and culture to 
the people who hospitably sheltered and befriended 

Among those refugee ecclesiastics whose visit to our 
shores was so fruitful of blessings, was probably St. 
Gildas the Wise. He became a distinguished teacher 
in the great school of Armagh soon after St. Patrick's 
death, and continued to govern it as rector with great 
success for many years. He is supposed to have 
returned to Wales soon after the death of his brother, 
Howel, a local dynast there, who was slain by the 
famed King Arthur early in the sixth century. He 
afterwards wrote a book on the Destruction of Britain, 
which is still extant, and which shows that he must 
have been a learned divine of great holiness of life, as 
well as a man of general culture, eminently qualified to 
preside over and direct the great school at Armagh. 
King Arthur is said to have expressed his regret for the 
murder of his brother, and to have sought pardon and 
reconciliation with him, which the saint granted, at 
the instance of an assembly of bishops and other clergy, 
who met on the occasion, and who imposed a suitable 
penance on the king for his crime. 

In his book on the Destruction of Britain, St. Gildas 
gives a deplorable account of the moral and religious 
condition of his native Wales, reduced to th^ \&s& 
extremity by domestic tyrants, &a mwsfti u&V] \\& Vassn 

202 Brendaniana. 

foes, at the time he wrote, probably about a.d. 535. 
He lashes those local tyrants with fierce invective, and 
charges them with the crimes of perjury, robbery, 
adultery, and murder, declaring that their crying 
iniquities had brought down upon their country the 
vengeance of God, in the frightful scourge, of the Saxon 
invasion. He addresses the clergy also in very severe 
language, and denounces woe, like another Jeremias, 
upon those faithless pastors, who, by truckling to those 
tyrants, sold their priesthood and betrayed their flocks. 

During his stay in Wales St. Gildas was in frequent 
and most friendly intercourse with St Cadoc (Latinized 
Docus), who founded the great monastery and school 
of Lancarvan, over which he presided. At his request 
St Gildas resumed his office of teaching, and directed 
the school at Lancarvan for one year. Soon after these 
two holy men fled away from the crowds of visitors and 
students that were attracted by their great repute for 
holiness and learning, and sought " deserts in the sea " 
in the islands of Bonech and Echni, in the Bristol 
Channel, where they may without distraction from the 
outer world, apply themselves to prayer and study. 

We read in Bee's Lives of Cambro-Briti&h Saints, 
that "when St. Gildas dwelt in the island of Echni, 
devoutly serving God, he wrote a missal-book, and 
presented it to St. Cadoc, when he became his con- 
fessor; therefore that book was called the Gospel of 
St. Gildas." This story is very interesting, taken in 
connection with the " missal in Greek letters," set 
before St. Brendan by St. Gildas, as we read in our 
text, and it may serve to explain an obscure allusion to 
the " Bitus celebrandi missam" which we are told that 
" Irish saints of the second order received from the 
British saints, David and Gildas and Cadoc." This 
may mean that those Cambrian &&\n\& ^etfc «U, like 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. . 203 

St. Gildas, industrious copyists of the missal, and 
presented many copies of it to their contemporary 
Irish saints for use in Ireland. 

St. Gildas and St. Cadoc were not long left in peace 
to enjoy the delights of heavenly solitude in # those 
islands, for a band of pirates from the Orkneys swept 
down upon them, and plundered their little cells, 
making captives of some of their disciples. The saints 
escaped with their lives, and St. Gildas, after spending 
some time at the great monastery of Glastonbury, left 
his native Britain and migrated to Armoric Gaul, or 
lesser Britain as it was called, now Brittany, whither 
immense numbers of the ancient Britons had already 
taken refuge from their Saxon relentless enemies. This 
occurred, according to Mabillon, in a.d. 538. Here 
St. Gildas soon founded a monastery and school at a 
place called Rhuys,* a promontory overhanging the 
sea of Morbihan, and it was at this monastery, most 
probably, that St. Brendan visited him and received the 
singular welcome detailed in our text. 

Here we are told that it was " after three years on 
his pilgrimage " St. Brendan, arrived at the monastery, 
but we have no intimation of where or how the saint 
had passed those years, and we are left very much to 
conjecture. We must suppose that after he had left 
Ireland he landed in Cymric Britain, or Wales, and 
that he soon after visited there the, great saints who 

* This is the peninsula of St. Gildas de Rhut/8, which is surmounted 
by the largest tumulus in Brittany. Here Abelard, of mediaeval notoriety, 
spent some years of his restless life in a monastery, which has long ceased 
to exist, but the site of which is still pointed out. He had sought in this 
"end of the earth," as he termed the place, to hide his shame ; and, 
perhaps, atone for his guilt, but even here he could not rest in quiet or 
live in safety ; but was still, as he tells in his Life, * * driven about as a 
wanderer and a fugitive, as if the curse of Cam.^et^\j^a^Ts^r — ^3*S^ 
Vacation in Brittany, 

204 Brendaniana. 

were conspicuous for their holy and apostolic lives 
at that time. Among these St. David of Kilmuine 
(Menevia) held a foremost place, and for this reason 
may have been the first to receive a visit from St. 
Brendan. For this there may have been another 
reason also. We know that in St. Brendan's native 
Altraighe, in West Kerry, a sister of St. David's, Mor, 
the mother of three Kerry saints, was settled in 
marriage with a local chief named End, whose Cathair 
of Cathair-einde (now Cahirina) stood in the western 
suburb of the present Tralee, and that she resided 
there at the time that St. Brendan was making his 
missionary journeys to and fro in that district. The 
saint must have therefore known this saintly sister of 
St. David very well, and through her may have con- 
tracted a special friendship with that saint. In this 
case he would be sure to pay an early visit to Kilmuine, 
and spend some time in the society of the holy founder, 
and in co-operation with him in his apostolic labours. 
Thus may have passed a portion of the first " three 
years of his pilgrimage." 

We have more distinct warrant for the association of 
our saint with another illustrious contemporary saint in 
Wales, viz., St. Cadoc of Lancarvan, mentioned above. 
In a Life of this saint we read that after he had founded 
his house at Lancarvan, one of the great centres of 
the monastic lite in Cambro-Britain, and established 
around it various priories, each under the rule of its 
prior, he went on a pilgrimage to Ireland and remained 
three years in a famous monastery in Munster, where 
monastic discipline was very exact. " On his return to 
Wales he brought back with him several Irish monks and 
many British priests, who desired to become members of 
his community." In the copy I write this from, " the 
famous monastery " is stated to be ttieA of Liainore, but 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 205 

if this meant the foundation of St. Carthage-Mochuda 
at Lismore, it would be a gross anachronism, for that 
great monastery was not founded for fully a century 
after the most probable date of St. Cadoc's \isit to 
Ireland. This took place soon after the saint's expulsion, 
by the Orkney pirates, from his island-retreat in the 
Bristol Channel, and about the time of his friend 
St. Gildas's migration to Brittany ; that is, about A.D. 
538. This Munster monastery was therefore in existence 
before that date, and may have been one of those 
founded by St. Brendan himself, and which was then 
" famous for the strictness of its monastic discipline." 
However that may be, St. Brendan's visit to Wales 
coincides very closely, with this pilgrimage of St. Cadoc, 
and with his return home, with " several Irish monks 
and British priests, ,, whom he had recruited in Ireland 
for his great monastery at Lancarvan ; and who can tell 
but that St. Brendan himself and " the holy company of 
disciples " that accompanied him to Wales, may have 
furnished some of those Irish monks, who wished to join 
the saintly community of St. Cadoc, and who left their 
homes for distant Wales, under the guidance of 
St. Brendan, going forth on his pilgrimage at the same 
time ? It is worthy of note, in this connection, that we 
have an account of St. Brendan's presence and residence 
in St. Cadoc's monastery, soon after this date, from 
which we may infer that he became a member of the 
community and assumed office there, probably as prior 
of one of those attached priories referred to above, before 
he left Wales to visit St. Gildas in Brittany. This 
account is given in the Life of St. Machutus — or St. 
Malo — by Bili — who is said to have been born near 
Lancarvan, and to have been educated there by 
St. Brendan, who is, in this Life, always caJAsA *^Rk 
11 Master/' in all the incidents aiA ^e\&ox&fe w*stfc»* 

206 Brendaniana. 

in that curious Breton legend. We will treat of this, 
after the next chapter, in which the miracles of St. 
Brendan are related.] 

XVI. St. Brendan performs a great Miracle at 


When these days had passed, the venerable St. Gildas 
said to St. Brendan : " There are in the wilderness hard- 
by very powerful wild beasts that frequently attack the 
people about here, and often beset even this city of 
ours; now God has vouchsafed to you the power to 
expel those beasts from amongst men, that by so great 
a miracle wrought here by you, through the divine 
grace, you may surely know that the fault which led to 
your pilgrimage has been pardoned by God." Then 
St. Brendan went forth into the wilderness, taking with 
him the aforementioned disciple, Talmach, while a 
number of men on horse-back followed, and looked on 
at a distance, desiring to see the issue. When they 
came to the lair of the wild beasts, they found the dam, 
with her young ones, asleep in the noontide sun ; and 
holy Talmach went to rouse her up. Whereupon she 
uttered a loud roar, on hearing which all the other wild 
beasts rushed towards her. Then St. Brendan said to 
them : " Follow us now very gently, with all your cubs ;" 
and while all who were looking on, expecting their 
instant death, they saw the wild beasts following them 
like domestic dogs, from which, however, the men on 
horse-back fled away in great trepidation ; but St. Gildas, 
when he saw them so tame, even at the gates of the 


The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 207 

city, gave thanks to God for His wonderful works. 
Then St. Brendan commanded the wild beasts to go 
back again into the wilderness, and never more to harm 
anyone ; and men know not what became of them, for 
they have not since been seen up to the present day. 
After this the venerable St. Gildas said to St. Brendan : 
" Accept me now, father, as a disciple of yours, and 
become the patron of this city and people." But 
St. Brendan replied : " Here I must not tarry, for my 
resurrection shall be in Ireland/' Then St. Brendan 
having received the blessings of St. Gildas and all his 
monks, as well as those of the inhabitants of the city, 
and having bestowed his blessing upon them in return, 
took his departure from the place, and in another 
district in Brittany he founded soon after a monastery, 
named Ailech. In another place, also, in Britain, in the 
district of Heth, he established a church, and a town 
around it, and there w the holy father performed great 
miracles. Subsequently he sailed back to Ireland. 

[The version of this story in the Life of Brendan in 
the Codex Salmanticensis, gives the finale somewhat 
differently : " Brendan ordered the wild beasts to go 
gently with him, and thenceforth to watch over the 
flocks of the district; whereupon they followed him 
like so many house-dogs, and having laid aside all their 
natural ferocity, they performed the duties of shepherds 
for the citizens. When St. Gildas had witnessed this 
and other like miracles wrought by Brendan, he offered 
to him his city, and himself as an obedient subject of 
his ; but Brendan replied : " What \s> \Jaa mt\^^isi^ 

208 Brendaniana. 

or what '(Safe I for it all? (Quid mihi, inquit, et 
mundo) ? " 

In this wonderful tale we have the only account now 
accessible of the life and work of St. Brendan during 
his stay among the Britons or Bretons, except what is 
added about his foundation of a monastic house at 
Aleth, and of a church in the district of Hethj both 
places said to be in Britain or Brittany. The period of 
his stay there was probably more than seven years, and 
during that time he, no doubt, laboured zealously and 
fruitfully in promoting the glory of God and the salva- 
tion of souls in many parts of Wales as well as Brittany. 
Hence St. Gildas directs his monks to prepare to wel- 
come him as " a second St. Peter," so full was he of 
Apostolic zeal, and as a tireless worker for the Lord 
(pater laboriosus). 

There was a wide field for the exercise of such 
laborious zeal in the moral and religious condition of 
the sorely afflicted Britons at that period, which 
St. Gildas deplores and denounces in his book on the 
Destruction of Britain, to which I referred before ; * 
and we may well believe that St. Brendan and the 
fervent band of disciples who accompanied him on his 
mission to Britain devoted themselves to the arduous 
task of reviving the faith and reforming the morals of 
those people. Among the causes that produced this 
decay of religion and this depravation of morals, was 
the tyranny and cruel oppression, as well as the scan- 
dalous lives of their native princes, whose iniquities 
St. Gildas inveighs against so vehemently as more 
than sufficient to merit their terrible chastisements at 
the hands of their Saxon invaders. In his " Querulous 
Epistle/' which forms the second part of his Destruction 
of Britain, he denounces by name five of those domestic 
* Supra, page W\. 


The Latin Life of St Brendan. 209 

tyrants, and after specifying some of their infamous 
crimes, he compares them to various wild beasts which 
preyed upon the people ; one he called " the panther," 
another the " lion's cub," another " the insular dragon," 
and so on. It is not surprising to learn, as .we are 
told, that the saint had to seek refuge in Armoric Gaul, 
or Brittany, from the vengeance of those tyrants 
whose wrath he had thus incurred. St. Brendan's mis- 
sion in Wales commenced soon after, and very pro- 
bably the field of his missionary labours extended 
to the districts and peoples ruled by those wicked 
princes. He had need of all the Apostolic zeal and 
courage of " another St. Peter," to preach to and 
attempt the conversion of such monsters of iniquity and 
impiety ; but we may be sure that the daring voyager, 
who braved all the dangers and terrors of the trackless 
ocean, the mare tenebrosum, in quest of the " Land of 
Promise of the Saints," or "of strange peoples to be 
won to Christ," would not shrink even from so desperate 
a task. We may, therefore, hope that he did essay the 
work of converting these human " beasts of prey," and 
more — that he effected the conversion and reformation of 
at least some of them ; for I surmise that his success in 
thus morally taming those wild beasts is figured 
under the wonderful tale of his controlling and subdu- 
ing the powerful beasts of the wilderness at the instance 
of St. Gildas; and that by the story of his changing those 
ravening " beasts of prey" into "guardians and shep- 
herds of the flock," as we have it in the Life from the 
Codex Salmanticensis, is conveyed in allegory the effect 
of St. Brendan's mission upon some of those princes, 
whereby they were converted into the " guardians and 
shepherds " of their people, a miracle of divine power 
and grace more signal even than the saint's mastery 
of the " wild beasts of the wilderness " 

210 Brendaniana. 

In the Life of St. Machutus, or Malo, there are man 
references to St. Brendan's stay in Wales and Brittanj 
The earliest Life now extant of this saint was writte] 
about the middle of the ninth century by Bib, deacoi 
of the church of Aleth, in Brittany, who tells us tha 
when writing he had at hand another Life of the sain 
by an anonymous author, " who composed it man; 
years before he (Bili) was born, as a faithful relatioi 
of what he had heard and learned from wise men wh< 
preceded him." This ancient Life had, it seems, beei 
corrupted by many interpolations, which Bili propose* 
to eliminate in his edition of it. From all this we cai 
infer that this earliest Life of St. Machutus was com 
posed in the eighth century, not long after the probabl< 
date of the first Irish version of the Brendan Legend 
many of the incidents of which it appears to have 
borrowed and adapted in a notable manner. 

Machutus, the child of a local dynast, was born ir 
Monmouthshire about a.d. 520, was baptized at the 
neighbouring monastery of Lancarvan, and became 8 
pupil and disciple of St. Brendan's, when he visitec 
there. The Life tells that soon after St. Brendan was 
seized with an ardent desire to travel in quest of the 
island Yma (meaning in Breton or Cymric the " Isle 
of the Just " or Blessed), and urged his pupil Machutus 
to accompany him, which he readily consented to do 
in the words hi the Scripture text : " Master, I will 
follow Thee whithersoever Thou goest." St. Brendan 
had a strong and large vessel built, and prepared for a 
long voyage, he himself, his pupil, St. Machutus, and no 
less than nine hundred and three companions embarking. 
The voyage lasts for seven years, but the incidents of the 
last year only are related, and in all these Machutus 
fills the principal role. In the seventh year they dis- 
covered the island of the Giant Mildu, whom they 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 211 

restore to life and baptize. They learn from him the 
whereabouts of the island Yma, of which they were in 
quest, for he had once seen it ; but he told them that 
it was completely surrounded by a golden wall of great 
height. This giant, being of preternatural stature, 
offers to draw their ship to that island by wading through 
the sea ; but while he was doing this a great storm 
arose, and by the force of the waves thg anchor cable 
by which he drew the vessel snapped, and they were 
fain to return to the giant's island, from which they 
soon after resolved to go back to their own country. 
On their voyage the crew suffered intense thirst, which 
Machutus assuaged in a miraculous manner. This 
occurred on Easter Eve, and it was on the next day, 
Easter Sunday, that the celebration of Mass by Machutus 
on the whale's back took place, as is related in the 
extract from this Life, already given in my "Note on 
Irish Life " (page 89, supra). 

The voyagers returned home without having found 
the island Yma, just as in the Irish version, Brendan 
returns after his five years' voyage, having failed in 
his quest of the Land of Promise of the Saints ; but 
Machutus is resolved again to seek out the wonderful 
secrets of the ocean, urged by the words of the same 
text quoted in the Irish version : " He who hath left 
house or brethren or sisters ... or land for My Name's 
sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess 
life everlasting." 

To a second voyage the parents of Machutus object, 
and his master, St. Brendan, is also unwilling to bless 
the enterprise ; but the holy youth pleaded so earnestly, 
that his parents at length consent, and they and 
Brendan accompany him to the sea-shore, where a 
masted ship is found, prepared by no human hands^ and 
where he is favoured with aviaiou oi Cft^*\i ^Xaasi^ 

212 Brendaniana. 

who, finding his motives pure and holy, blesses him, 
and foretells a prosperous voyage. 

The accounts of this second voyage vary somewhat 
in the versions of the Life. In one, it is told that his 
vessel soon arrived at the Island of September, in front 
of the present St. Malo, whereon he found a hermit 
named Festivus,who had been warned in a dream of 
his visit, and .under whose instruction he chose to 
remain. Thus ended the voyage. In another account 
wo are told that in this second voyage " Brendan and 
Machutus had traversed the Orkneys and the northern 
islands of Scotland before they returned home." From 
this we may infer that St. Brendan had, after his visit 
to Wales, visited and evangelized some of the islands 
of Scotland. Hence in the Calendar* of David 
Camerarius, he is described as the apostle of the 
Orkneys and the Scottish Isles : " Maii 16 die — 
Sanctus Brendanus, abbas, apostolus Orcadum et 
Scoticarum Insularum" 

It was probably during this mission that the saint 
founded the church in the district of Heth, where he, 
as the text relates, " performed great miracles.'* This 
is supposed to be the island of Tir-eeth (" Land of Eth 
or Heth "), a large island off the coast of Argyle, 
Scotland. There are many other places among the 
isles, as well as on the mainland of Scotland, where the 
memory of St. Brendan was preserved in veneration. 
Canon O'Hanlon, in his Life of St. Brendan, May 16th 
(Lives of Irish Saints), thus notices some of those 
places: "Kilbrennan (Church of Brendan) in Mull; 
St. Brengan's chapel in St. Kilda; he was patron of 
Boyndie and Birnie; he was venerated at Cullen, at 
Dumbarney, and at Balbirnie ; St. Brenghan's fair was 

* Published in 1631, and dedicated to King Charles I. 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 213 

held at Kilbar, in Ayrshire, and at Banff ; the island of 
Bute got its name from a little cell erected there by 
St. Brendan,which in Gaelic was called bothe, and he was 
honoured as patron of this royal island ; St. Brendan's 
haven at Innerbondy belonged to Arbroath abbey ; the 
Church of Eassie, in Forfarshire, was dedicated to him, 
and several other churches in Scotland rejoiced in him 
as their patron." Memorials such as these, so wide- 
spread and enduring, indicate that the mission of 
St. Brendan to Scotland and the Isles must have been of 
some duration ; but we have no means of ascertaining 
the time it occupied. It must have taken place before 
the saint's return to Ireland from his pilgrimage to 
Britain; that is, about a.d. 550; and, therefore, nearly 
twenty years before St. Columba prosecuted his mission 
of evangelizing those same islands of northern Scotland 
which St. Brendan had traversed in his missionary 
journeys. He may, therefore, be justly honoured in 
the Calendar of the Scottish Church as the " Apostle of 
the Orkneys and the Isles of Scotland.' ' 

Ailech, where the text states he founded a monastery 
in Britain or Brittany, was, no doubt, the ancient 
A tectum or Aleth in Brittany, not far from the present 
St. Malo. It was a place of some importance, even 
before St. Brendan's time, being the chief city of an 
ancient Gaulish tribe, and afterwards the residence of 
a Roman prefect, and the seat of a military division 
under the empire. It was situated on a massive bluff 
at the mouth of the river Ranee ; on the other side was 
the precipitous rock on which St. Malo was built. 
Here St. Machutus, as his Life tells, found St. Aaron, a 
holy hermit, who had a cell upon this rock, and died 
there in 543, leaving St. Machutus or Malo to succeed 
him. Thence he passed over to AAatti, Ntasssa ^>V 
Brendan had founded the mona&terj \ wA >Qdr5» > di 

214 Brendania'na . 

laboured as a holy and zealous preacher of the Gospel 
for some years, when he was consecrated first bishop 
of the ancient see of Aleth, which five centuries after- 
wards was transferred to St. Malo, where his relics 
were preserved, and to which he had given his name. 

11 In the seaward front of St. Malo, high above the 
highest tides, tower up from the deep sea great masses 
of storm-beaten rocks, like advanced posts, some of 
which have been utilized for purposes of fortification. 
One of the largest of these, Cezembre, which has almost 
the proportions of an island, has been so utilized, 
and on its craggy slope can still be distinguished the 
ruins of the hermit cell of St. Brendan, in strange 
contrast to the gleam of the cannon of the battery that 
crowns its fugged summit. "* This was the Island of 
September, on which St. Machutus is said to have 
found the hermit Festivus, as related above, under 
whose instruction he remained for so long a time. Of 
St. Malo's residence there we have no further trace ; 
but the existence of this ancient cell, dedicated to \ 
St. Brendan, indicates that saint's connection with the \ 
place, and very likely this weird rock in the sea was | 
chosen by him as a solitary retreat from his neighbour- j 
ing monastery at A leth, to which he resorted occasionally. j 

Another interesting memorial of St. Brendan's visit j' 
to Britain, sinjilar to that on the Isle de Cezembre, was I 
the little oratory that still bears his name, which he [ 
built on the bold crag that overhangs the junction of 
the river Avon with the Severn, in the Bristol Channel, 
where its remains are still visible, to remind the Bristol 
mariners that once upon a time the great sailor-saint, 
Brendan, had blessed the seaward approach to their 
city of Bristol.] 

•Month, Oct., 18S1, art. "Sfc.MuW 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 215 

XVII. — St. Brendan commends the Patronage of 
St. Brigid. 

One day that St. Brendan was on his voyages on the 
ocean, he saw two monsters of the deep in dreadful 
conflict, one of them sometimes pursuing the other with 
great fury. The monster that was pursued, when it was 
nearly overtaken and vanquished by the other, cried out, 
in a human voice, in Brendan's hearing: "I commend 
myself to the protection of St. Patrick, the Chief-Bishop 
of the Irish.' ' The other monster then shouted, also in 
human voice : ' ' hi s protection will now avail you nothing. ' ' 
The monster pursued again cried out: "I commend 
myself to the protection of St. Brendan, here present ;" 
and then its pursuer said : " Neither will his protection 
save you now." At last the monster that was pursued 
cried out : " I commend myself to the protection of the 
most holy virgin Bri 'Id." Whereupon the monster in 
pursuit at once withdrew, saying that it dare not 
pursue further the monster that invoked the protection 
of St. Brigid ; and thus the wretched creature escaped 

Then St. Brendan composed a hymn in praise of 
St. Brigid, for the greater gloiy of God ; and when he 
returned to Ireland, he went to visit that saint; and 
having told her about those monsters, he asked her why 
such monsters of the deep had more fear of her than of 
other saints. The holy virgin replied by a question : 
"How often do you fix your attention upon God?" 
St. Brendan answered : " At every seventh step I take, or 
sooner, I have God in my fho\xg|b\& \ \>\& wssas&sawfc^ 

216 Brendaniana. 

think of God alone for a long space of time." St. Brig 
then said : " You therefore think of wordly things som 
times, and upon God at other times ; for my part, sin< 
I first applied my mind to God, I have never for 
moment diverted my attention from Him; the moi 
constantly one fixes the attention of his mind and th 
love of his heart upon God, so much the more do th 
animals stand in fear of him." At this sentiment of th 
holy virgin Brigid, St. Brendan was greatly edified, an 
having received her blessing, and giving his in return 
he proceeded on his way. 

[In Note* (24) on Irish Life, I have given the versior 
of this story from the Life of St. Brigid, where 1 
observed that if the story was more than a pious allegory, 
and if such an interview took place between those saints, 
it must have occurred before a.d. 524 — the year ol 
St. Brigid's death. I know no reason to question the 
fact of the saints having met after St. Brendan's famous 
voyages, which, most probably, ended some time before 
that date ; and there are some reasons why St. Brendan 
should visit, on such an occasion, his friend St. Brigid, 
who was the special and intimate friend of his patron 
St. Ere, whom she had accompanied into Kerry, and 
"near whose dwelling by the sea," at Kerry-Head, she 
had fixed her little convent "for many years," during 
St. Brendan's youthful pupilage under the holy Bishop, 
when she must have had many opportunities of knowing 
and loving the youthful saint. When St. Brigid left her 
convent over the Shannon, near Kerry-Head, she went 

* Page 85, tupra. 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 217 

as her Life tells, into Connaugbt, and resided on the 
plain of Aei, " where she founded cells and convents 
round about." She had, no doubt, brought some of her 
Kerry nuns with her on this mission, and one of these, 
we may believe, was the holy religious, St. Caoilin,* the 
illustrious Kerry saint, who welcomed and protected 
her " Kerry cousins/' the Ciarraidhe- Aei, who migrated 
to this plain of Aei, some years afterwards. Within 
this great plain St. Brendan received his " Beligious 
Bule " from the angel, and there also he performed the 
signal miracle recorded in the Irish Life. During this 
first visit of St. Brendan to the plain of Aei — which 
took place not long after the date of St. Brigid's mission 
there, he must have come to know some of her convents 
and her religious, and very probably renewed the 
friendly relations of his youth with the saint herself. 
We have, therefore, some reasons to think that those 
saints may have had some such spiritual colloquy as is 
narrated in the text. 

The insertion of the story here is somewhat out of 
chronological order, but it comes in seasonably to 
furnish an interesting and edifying explanation of the 
wonderful dominion over the " wild beasts of the 
wilderness," exercised by St. Brendan, as related in 
the previous chapter, and which the Creator has often 
vouchsafed to such eminent saints as he was, in pro- 
portion to the degree of their love of God, and the 
holiness and innocence of their lives. The great truth 
has been many times illustrated in the history of such 
servants of God, that in the words of St. Brigidif 
" The more constantly and sincerely one fixes the 
attention of his mind and the love of his heart upon God, 

* See «' Notes on Irish Life," page 69, sttpra. 

t The Four Masters in a.d. 526, refer to this voterforo \*to«sR». , 

Saints Brendan and Brigid. 1 

218 Brenduniana. 

so much the more does the brute creation stand in 
awe of him." 

The " Hymn of praise of St. Brigid," which the text 
tells us was composed by St. Brendan, is the ancient 
Irish hymn or poem in the Liber Rymnorum, beginning, 

"Brigit be bhithmhaith, bruth ordhai oibhlech ; " 

which is attributed to various authors, in the preface to 
it in the oldest MSS. ; among others to St. Coluinba, 
and to St. Brendan. It consists of three quatrains ; the 
English of the first, Dr. Whitly Stokes gives as 
follows : — * 

" Brigid, excellent woman, a flame golden, delightful, 
May she, the sun dazzling, splendid, guide us to the 

eternal kingdom ! 
May Brigid save us over the throngs of demons ! 
May she repel from us the attacks of all disease ! " 

XVIII.— St. Brendan erects a Cell in Inis-meic- 
Ichuind. The King of Connaught makes a Gift 
of the Island to him. 
St. Brendan then came to the country of Connaught, 
and went into an island called in Irish Inis-meiclchuind, 
where horses of the king were on pasture. Here the 
saint when building an oratory, set the king's horses 
to draw materials. The holy bishop Moenu was there 
with St. Brendan at the time. When the King Aedh, 
son of Eathach Tirmcarna, heard of this, he declared in 
his wrath that he would surely put to death the person 
who had done him so great a wrong. In his rage he 
hastened to the island, but when he was preparing to 

* Lives of Saints from Book of Lismove, \««p\Sft. 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 219 

cross over in a boat, a violent storm suddenly arose, 
which agitated the waters of the lake from its depths 
for the space of three days, during which the king had 
to await a calm. On the night of the third day the 
Lord appeared to him in a dream, and said to him : 
" Take care that you do no harm to My servant 
Brendan : otherwise you will soon meet your death." 
When the storm subsided, the king made a gift of the 
island, together with the horses, to St. Brendan, for 

[St Brendan had now completed his pilgrimage in 
Britain, and returned to Ireland about a.d. 550. He 
had been absent on that mission perhaps ten years, 
and we should expect that after his return he would 
make an early ami ,,;mxious visitation of his various 
monasteries throughout Munster, and especially of his 
earliest foundations in West Munster or in his native 
Kerry. He, no doubt, visited his dear friend and 
foster-mother, St. Ita, at her convent of Killeedy, and 
gave her, for her edification and " mental recreation," 
an account of his missionary labours and peregrinations 
among the Britons, as he had years before, on his return 
from his famous voyages, entertained her " with the 
wonders he had seen on the ocean." It would appear 
that on his return to Ireland certain disciples and friends 
from Britain accompanied him, and among these was, 
probably, "the son of a king of Britain," whom 
St. Brendan had brought with him, and placed for a 
time in his monastery in the Lower Shannon ^& Lt\.W 
da-dro7)iand. Eegarding this Vmg* wsn, ^q^ Vw^ « 

220 Brendaniana. 

extraordinary tale in the Life of St. Buadhan, in the 
Codex Salmanticensis, as follows : — 

" On a certain occasion the boat of Brendan was 
stink to the bottom of the sea in the Lower Shannon 
(Mare Luiemnech in the text), and the son of the King 
of Britain was at the time asleep in the prow of the 
boat, and went to the bottom with it. Then Brendan 
told his monks to go at once to St. Buadhan, for to 
him had God granted the power to raise their boat 
from the depths of the sea, and to restore to life the 
king's son that was drowned in it. They went 
accordingly to St. Buadhan, and he came with them 
at once to the place where the boat had sunk, and 
when he had offered a prayer the boat instantly rose 
to the surface with the king's son in it alive and safe ; 
whereupon he told them that St. Buadhan had placed 
his cowl around his head, so that he felt not the 

It is not stated whether St. Brendan was present on 
this occasion ; very probably he was not ; and when 
the story reached him at a distance, he directed his 
monks to call in their saintly neighbour, St. Buadhan, 
from Lorrha, on the other side of the Shannon, to 
perform the needful miracle lor his special friend, 
St. Brendan. 

Another disciple who accompanied our saint from 
Britain was "that monk who had come from his parents 
with him from Britain," of whose death and miraculous 
restoration to life we will read in a succeeding chapter 
of this Life, and whose name is stated in the Life of 
Brendan, from the Codex Salmanticensis, to be Senan, 
whom St. Brendan restored to life, " because he had 
promised his parents, when they committed their son 
to his care, that they would see him again safe and 
sound " 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 221 

I cannot help thinking that St. Brendan about this 
period visited his proto-monastery at Ardfert, and 
remained there for some time, in loving intercourse 
with his spiritual children in that religious house, which 
was his earliest foundation, and in which he, no doubt, 
retained an affectionate interest amid all his missionary 
labours and solicitudes. Here he may have sought and 
taken some needful rest after his many wanderings by 
land and sea, and having now long passed his sixtieth 
year, it would be natural enough that he should say : 
" Here, among my first-born spiritual children, is my 
rest for ever and ever ; here will I dwell, for I have 
chosen it.' ' But this was not his choice, for he knew 
for many years that "the place of his resurrection" 
should be elsewhere. Hence he soon after turned his 
face once more to "the country of Connaught ;" and for 
this new missionary toil he had, I believe, a special 
reason and attraction. 

For some time before this period a remarkable 
migration of St. Brendan's countrymen, the Ciarraidhe, 
was in progress from the plains of their native Kerry 
to the wide and beautiful plains of Eoscommon and 
Mayo, in Connaught. This migration commenced early 
in the reign of Aedh, son of Eochaidh Tirmcharna, 
probably before a.d. 550, under the conduct of a Kerry 
prince, Cairbre MacConuire, who, because of some 
intestine broils, of which neither history nor tradition 
tells, was driven into forced exile, with large numbers 
of his clan. John O'Donovan* gives an account of this 
migration from an ancient Gaelic MS. in the library of 
Trinity College, Dublin, which is very interesting :— 

" When first did the Ciarriadhe come into Connaught? 
Not difficult. In the time of Aedh, son of Eochaidh 

* Book of Rights, page 100, u, i. 

222 . Brmdaniana. 

Tirmcharna. Which of them came in first ? Not diffi- 
cult. Coirbri MacConuire, who came from the south of 
Munster, whence he had been expelled. He came with 
all his people tp Aedh, son of Eochaidh Tirmcharna. 
Coirbri had a daughter famed for her beauty and 
accomplishments, and Aedh asked her of her father in 
marriage. After the marriage she came one time to 
visit her father, who showed great grief in her presence. 
She asked him whence his grief arose. " My being 
landless in exile/' said he. Messengers came from the 
king for his wife, but she would not go to him until he 
should give a good tract of land to her father. " I will 
give him/' said Aedh, " as much of the wooded lands 
to the west as he can pass round in one day, and St. 
Caeilin, the pious, shall be given as a guarantee for it." 
The tale goes on to say that Cairbre had made a wide 
circuit in his day's journey, to the great jealousy and 
vexation of King Aedh's subjects, who conspired to 
poison Cairbre in a draught of beer; but this was 
revealed to St. Caeilin, who indignantly demanded why 
the king had violated her guarantee by conniving at 
this intended murder. " I will violate thee," said she 
to Aedh, " as regards thy kingdom." The king sub- 
mitted to her award of punishment for his share in the 
conspiracy, which was a singular one. " Because you 
sought to destroy Cairbre, in a drink of beer, may the 
King of Connaught meet decline or certain death, if 
ever he drink of the beer of the Ciarraidhi."* He 
then gave the saint the land on which her church of 

* It would seem from this that the beer of the Ciarraidhe was remark- 
ably good ; whereas, in the judgment of this saint, the privation of it 
was condign penance for the crime of a king. Ancient Kerry was famous 
also for its mede or metheglin, for O'Heerin sings of the King of Kerry, 

The chief of the mede-abounding land 
From Tralee to the fair-streamed Shannon. 

The Latin Life of St Brendan. 223 

Termon Mor or Termon Caeilinne was afterwards 

The migration thus commenced continued for many 
years, so that three extensive colonies of the Ciarraidhe 
were settled in large districts of Eoscommon and Mayo, 
respectively called the Ciarraidhe- Aei, the Ciarraidhe 
Locha na n-Airneadh, and the Ciarraihde Airtich. 
These emigrants mostly belonged to one of the prin- 
cipal branches of the Ciarraidhe to which the sept of 
Altraighe, St. Brendan's own sept, gave its kinglets or 
chiefs, as O'Heerin tells us : — 

All the Altraighe return 

Two kings of the Plain of Ciarraidhe, 

A tribe ever ready in a point of difficulty, 

(JNeidhe and the Clann-Gonaire. 

(J Donovan's Translation. * 

The saint must have, therefore, as a loyal clansman, 
taken a special interest in the fortunes of the exiled 
members of Clann-Conaire, and we may well believe 
that this was a strong incentive for his second journey ' 
into Connaught, where he may minister to their 
spiritual wants, and, if necessary, protect and defend 
them, as St. Caeilin, the holy nun, had occasion to do, 
from harsh or unjust treatment from their new rulers.* 
Some of these exiles were near relations of St. Brendan, 
one of whom, Fintan, who is said to have been a son 
of a Kerry prince and a nephew of the saint's, had 
been received at the court of King Brudin, in North 

* An instance of such treatment is given in the Book of Rights : 
From the Ciarraidhe heavy the tribute 
That is given to the King of Connaught. 
On this O'Donovan notes "that the Kings of Connaught contrived to 
make the Ciarraidhe and other tribes who had migrated from Monster 
pay more than a rateable tribute for their territory. ,, (Book of RiqhU y 
page 103, n. g.) 

224 Brendaniana. 

Connaught, as a soldier of fortune, from which he had 
to fly, and take refuge with Sfc. Brendan, in his monas 
tery at Inisquin, after his secret marriage with a niece 
of the king's ; the firstborn of the marriage being the 
renowned St. Fursey, who was baptized by St. Brendan, 
and nurtured and instructed by him in his early youth. 
In his journey to " the country of Connaught/* the 
saint was accompanied by a younger brother of his, 
Faitleac,* and when he had founded what was probably 
his first monastery at Connaught, at Cluaintuasceart, 
within the present county of Eoscommon, among the 
exiled Ciarraidhe, who had settled there; he, after 
some time, left that foundation in charge of his brother, 
Faitleac, as we read in MacFerbuis, that " Fergus 
MacEahilly made reverence to Faitleac MacFinlogh of 
Cluaintuascart, as successor to Brendan, for it was to 
him that Brendan left his monks/ ' He then proceeded 
farther west, along the great plain of Aei, with which 
he was familiar in his early journeys in Connaught, 
before his priestly ordination, until he reached Lough 
Corrib; and here, upon the largest. of the beautiful 
islands that stud that magnificent sheet of water, he 
founded another monastery. This island is named in 
our text Inis-meic-ichuind (the island of the son of 
Ui-Cuin or O'Quiri), now known as Inchiquin or 
Inisquin ; it lies about half a mile off the eastern shore 
of the lake, and is more than a mile and a-quarter in 
length, containing nearly two hundred and thirty acres. 
The date of this foundation was about 552, a few years 
after King Aedh MacEochaidh had begun to reign, 
and probably after his marriage with the daughter of 
the exile Cairbre MacConuire of the Ciarraidhe. He is 
stated to have been the eighth Christian king of 

* See note 3 on Irish Life, page 35, supra. 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 225 

Connaught reigning at the royal seat of Rath Croghan, 
in Roscommon, for twenty-five years, and to have 
been killed at the battle of Binne-Baghna, in a.d. 576 
{Annals of Ulster), by the Ui-Briuin, some of his own 
tribesmen. He is mentioned in the Annals of Ulster 
at a.d. 561, as one of the allied chiefs who gained the 
victory at the famous battle of Cuildreimhne over the 
forces of the Ard-righ Diarmait MacCearbhail, who had 
put to death his son, Cornan, despite of the protection 
and intercession of St. Columba, with whom the young 
prince had taken refuge after an unpremeditated homicide 
he had commHted at Tara during the public games. 
This death of Cornan is said to have occasioned that 

From the story given in our text, I would infer that 
St. Brendan, having at first obtained the consent of 
King Aedh for his foundation on the island of Inisquin, 
was proceeding with his holy work there, when hostile 
influences wrought a change in the royal mind, as in 
the case of the king's dealings with the exile, Cairbre 
of the Ciarraidhe, and urged him to withdraw his 
consent, and even "to declare in his wrath." that he 
would take summary vengeance on the saint for tres- 
passing on his favourite horse pasturage. Fortunately, 
a storm arose to prevent him from immediate action 
and to give time for reflection, when calmer and wiser 
counsels prevailed, so that when the storm blew over 
(in the royal mind, as well as in the elements), " the 
king made a gift not only of the whole island, but of all 
the kings horses thereon to St. Brendan for ever." 

In this holy work Bishop Moenniu, who was a near 
relative of his, was associated with our saint. It is 
said that he had accompanied him on his famous 
Atlantic voyages, as one of the chosen ctana* «. ^rSkr! 
from his West Kerry monasteries, ua<l. NJaafc \*ft ^*^ 

&26 Bren&aniana. 

companion also during his pilgrimage and missionary 
journeys in Britain. We have no account when or 
where he was consecrated bishop. It was at some 
date probably before he joined St. Brendan at Inisquin, 
and if he had spent any time in his native Kerry, after 
his return from Britain, as I believe St. Brendan had 
done, he may have there received episcopal consecra- 
tion from some of the bishops* who had assumed 
jurisdiction in Kerry after the death of St. Ere, the 
foster-father of St. Brendan. The name has taken 
various forms in our early records, but that form we 
have in our text is probably as early and authentic as 
any of the others. 

The first part of the name Mo-ennu, is the term of 
endearment Mo (my) prefixed to the names of so many j 

of our early Irish saints, in the language of their devout 
clients; and, taking this away, we have the proper 
name Eiuiu, in the genitive case Ennean, as the name 
of this holy bishop. This was probably the name of 
the founder of the ancient church of Killeiny, near 
Castlegregory, barony of Corcaguiney, which has been 
sometimes accredited to St. Enda of Arann, because of 
the similarity of the name, and for no other reason that 
I have heard, but which more probably was a founda- 
tion of this St. Ennu, or Mo-ennu, who was a companion 
and fellow-labourer of St. Brendan's in so many of his 
missionary enterprises at home in Kerry as well as in 
foreign countries. 

When St. Brendan founded his great church and 
monastery at Clonfert, in a.d. 560, he was selected by 
the saint to preside over them as bishop, and if he out- 
lived his master, to succeed him as bishop-abbot. After 

♦See note 3, " Irish life,'' pages 34, 35, ante. 

Tlie Latin Life of St. Brendan. 227 

governing Clonfert for many years with a great repute 
for learning and sanctity, and with great prudence and 
success, he died there on March 1st, a.d. 571, or 572, on 
which day his festival is noted in the calendars of Irish 

XTX. — St. Brendan Bestores to Life one of the 

Eeligious of Inis-da-dromand. 
About this time St. Brendan sent five monks into his 
monastery on this island that they may remain in that 
community; but one day, the demon sowing strife 
between them, one stealthily wounded in the head 
another monk, who was a senior. When this brother 
died, some of the monks went in haste to St. Brendan, 
and told him what had happened. The holy father 
said to them : " Go back at once, and tell your wounded 
brother to awake from his sleep, for his Abbot Brendan 
was calling hiin." TWy returned and addressed these 
words to their deceased brother, and he instantly arose, 
and went towards St. Brendan, carrying still in his 
head the iron weapon with which he was wounded. 

When St. Brendan saw him he said: "Dear 
brother, do you desire to remain still in this life, or do 
you prefer to go now to heaven ? " The brother joy- 
fully chose to depart at once to Christ, and so he died 
in peace. He was buried in the island of Inisquin, 
and his grave there is called in Irish Lebayd in tollcynd 
(" the bed of the wounded head "j, and is held in great 

[From this extraordinary tale we xraq S 
St. Brendan, during his second mi^iorvm C 

228 Brendaniana. 

and after founding some monastic houses there, 
retained still control and jurisdiction over his earliei 
foundations in Munster, as well as in Kerry, and that 
he exercised this jurisdiction occasionally by transfer- 
ring monks from one house to another, according to the 
requirements of monastic discipline, or the interests oi 
the communities or of individual members thereof. The 
story also reminds us that sometimes, even in well- 
regulated and fervent communities, " the demon will 
sow strife" among the members, leading to the com- 
mission of great crimes, just as we read in the 
" Voyage,"* of the unhappy brother among the com- 
panions of the saint, who was " a son of perdition/' 
and who, for his evil life, " was doomed to the worst 
of all deaths, eternal death in hell." 

We can also infer from the story that St. Brendan 
was habitually resident for some time in his monastery 
on Inisquin, for thither the account of the brother s 
death was brought to him, and there the re-awakened 
and risen brother found him, and, in reply to his 
question, made choice of a present holy death and 
immediate union with Christ in heaven in pre- 
ference to a longer life. The grave in which he was 
buried on the island, called in Irish Lebayd in tolkynd 
(the earthly bed or grave of the man of the wounded 
head), must have been known to exist, and to be called 
by that name at the time this Latin Life was written, 
for it is stated to be still "held in great honour," 
though no trace probably remains for many centuries 
of this honoured grave, or of its suggestive name, in 
connection with the site of this island monastery, which 
is still used as a burial-ground.] 

* See chapter xii. of the " Voyage," p. 162, iupra. 

TJie Latin Life of St. Brendan. 229 

XX.— St. Brendan Restores to Liberty a Man 


One day St. Brendan went ashore from this island to the 
neighbouring mainland, and he met there an unhappy 
man, who, with tears, cast himself at his feet, saying : 
" Take pity on me, oh ! holy father, for I have been most 
cruelly reduced to slavery by my lord the king/' 
St. Brendan, knowing his great misery, turned up the 
earth with his staff, and took therefrom a lump of gold, 
which he gave to the man, cautioning him to tell no 
one, but to give this gold to the king, who would then 
emancipate him and his children. Nevertheless, he 
informed the king how he had got the gold, and then 
the king, when he heard of the miracle, said : " This 
gold is the gift of Christ, and it is not my right, but 
that of His servants, to keep it. I will, therefore, grant 
you and your posterity liberty gratuitously; you are 
now free to go whither you will." The man soon after 
returned to St. Brendan with the gold he gave him, 
giving thanks to God for his freedom. 

[From this interesting tale we may learn that in 
St. Brendan's time, and under the Christian kings of 
Connaught, there were persons and families reduced to 
bondage, and living as slaves or serfs under the dominion 
of their masters. These were a numerous class in 
Ireland in pre-Christian times ; and we have it on good 
authority* that the territory of Luighne, or Gaileanga, 
in North Connaught, was occupied by an enslaved tribe 

* See O'Flaherty'R Og^gia, c. to. 

230 Brendaniana. 

of the Firbolgs, called " Gaileans," and " Dainnonians," 
down to the third century of the Christian era, when 
they were dispossessed by a Minister prince, Cormac 
Gaileang, and dispersed through the surrounding districts. 
Those bore the brand of serfdom wherever they passed, 
and transmitted the inheritance of bondage to their 
descendants for many generations. Hence there can be 
no doubt that in Connaught, as well as in many other 
parts of Ireland, in pre-Christian times, personal slavery 
was not uncommon, and had become hereditary in many 
families. But when the light of the Christian faith was 
diffused over the land, and when the benign and civiliz- 
ing influences of religion *were applied to work a salutary 
change in the morals, as well as in the social relations 
of the people, this unhappy coifdition of personal and 
hereditary bondage was gradually disappearing, though 
exceptional cases of the kind, such as that of this 
"unhappy serf," who appealed to St. Brendan for 
charitable deliverance from his cruel bondage, must have 
occurred for some generations after the establishment 
of Christianity in Ireland.] 

XXI.— St. Bkendan Founds his great Monastery' 
at Clonfert. One of its Eeligious is 
Restored to Life. 

St. Brendan was seventy-seven years old when he 
founded his monastery and city of Clonfert ; and while 
he tarried there, a certain monk, who had come away 
with the saint from his parents in Britain, died in the 
monastery. On the third day after his death, 
St. Brendan said to the holy Bishop Moenniu : " Place 
my staff on the body of the deceased brother." When 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 231 

the bishop had laid the staff on the body, already for 
three days cold in death, the deceased brother at once 
arose from the dead, and being restored to perfect 
health, was sent back, much strengthened in faith, to 
his own country of Britain 

[The date indicated here for the foundation of 
Clonfert is a.d. 560, for St. Brendan having been born 
in a.d. 483, would be seventy-seven years old at that 
date. The annals of Innisfallen assign the date of the 
foundation to the very day of the famous battle of 
Cuildreimhne, which occurred in a.d. 561. Keferring 
to King Diarinait's defeat in that battle, those annals 
record : Diarmait vero fug it, et in eo die Cluainferta- 
Brenainn fundata est t angelo imperante. The annals of 
Ulster also note the foundation at two different years, 
so that it must have been considered by our ancient 
annalists as an event of great importance, The refer- 
ence to it in the Life of Brendan, from the Codex 
Salmanticensis, is interesting, as it furnishes the key to 
the allusion in the annals of Innisfallen to the " orders 
of the angel " (angelo imperante) for this foundation 
" Some time afterwards St. Brendan said to the brethren : 
1 We must go into the country of the Hy-Maine(Afcma?i0o- 
rumregiones 9 inthe text),forthat landhath need of us,and 
there perhaps shall our relics repose. I have heard its 
angel waging battle in my name, and we must therefore 
lend him assistance, for oar Eedeemer's sake.' On that 
year the kings of the northern parts of Ireland and Aedh. 
King of Connaught, with all their forces, gave battle to 
Diarmait, King of Ireland, at a place called Cuildremhne, 
and won the victory. Then the man of God, Brendan, 
went forth into the land of Hy-M&\\\fc,^\^^*x^^\s£ 

232 Brendaniana. 

his famous monastery of Clonfert, saying : ' Here is my 
rest; here will I dwell for ever.' In that place he 
became the father of many servants of God, and thence 
he diffused the light of life and virtue all round." 

I have already* referred to the monk, the subject 
of this tale, who had accompanied St. Brendan from 
Britain, and whom the saint restored to life, " because he 
had promised his parents in Britain that they should 
again see their dear son safe and sound." His name, 
according to the version of the story in the Codex 
Salmanticensis, was Senanus or Senan.] 

XXII. — St. Ita on Christmas Night receives the 
Holy Communion from St. Brendan. 

St. Ita, the foster mother of St. Brendan, on a Christ- 
mas night, said in her heart : " Would that I could on 
this blessed night, receive the Holy Communion from 
the hands of my foster-son, most holy Brendan." When 
the holy virgin, full of faith, rose during the night to 
celebrate the vigil of the festival in her convent, she was 
taken up by an angel, like another holy Habacuc, and 
borne away to the city of Clonfert-Brendan. There 
St. Brendan, foreseeing in spirit her visit to him, went 
forth to meet her in the porch of his church, bearing 
the Blessed Sacrament; and the saint of God, having 
alighted on the earth, received the Holy Communion 
from the hand of St. Brendan, with fervent thanksgiving 
to Christ. When the saints had imparted blessings 
mutually, the holy virgin was again borne away by the 
angel to her own convent. The distance from St. Ita's 
• Seepage 220, «upva. 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 233 

convent, Cluaincredail, in Minister, to the city of 
Clonfert-Brendan in Connaught, was a three days' 
journey, over which the saint was taken away and 
brought back by the angel in one hour's time. 

[This story of St. Ita's receiving Holy Communion 
from St. Brendan at Clonfert is not given in the Life of 
that holy virgin, published by Colgan, in Acta SS. 
Hiberniae ; but a very similar one is found in that Life, 
which may have suggested the curious tale related in 
our text. " On a great festival, St. Ita besought the 
Almighty God to grant her, as a special favour, that 
she might on that day receive the Holy Communion 
from the hands of a certain holy priest. Through the 
divine bounty, she was immediately conducted to the 
city and the church of Clonmacnoise, where, being at 
a great distance from her convent, Cluain Creadail, 
she had the happiness, as she had desired, of receiving 
Holy Communion, which was administered to her 
by a venerable priest. No one had seen her on her 
journey to Clonmacnoise, nor when returning thence, 
nor did anyone witness her reception of the Holy 
Sacrament on the occasion ; but after she had arrived 
at her convent on the same day, an angel revealed to 
the aged holy priest all that happened." 

At the time that St. Brendan founded Clonfert, viz., 
a.d. 560, St. Ita must have attained a great age, 
probably of more than ninety years, and she could 
scarcely make a visit to Clonfert at that period of her 
life, even to enjoy the much-desired happiness of receiving 
Holy Communion from the hands of her dear foster-son, 
St. Brendan, by the ordinary mode of tr&Nfc\l\x\%. ^kw^ 

234 Brendaniana. 

if she did make this visit in the body, and not merely 
in the spirit, or in an ecstatic vision, such as she may 
have been favoured with often during her life, the 
ministry of an angel to enable her to accomplish it 
was very appropriate. 

St. Brendan had sometimes, as his Lives tell us, visited 
this saintly nun at her convent, and held many spiritual 
colloquys with her. Of one of these we have some notice 
in the Life of St. Ita, referred to above. We are told 
that on one occasion of this kind, " St. Brendan asked 
St. Ita, what were the three acts of virtue most pleasing 
in the sight of God. The saint replied : ' The con- 
fident resignation of a pure heart to God; a simple 
religious life; magnanimity with charity — these three 
good works Are most agreeable to the Lord.' Then, 
being asked what were the three things most 
displeasing to God, she answered : * A countenance 
hating mankind ; a depraved affection in the heart ; 
an absorbing love of riches — these three things are very 
displeasing in God's sight.' Whereupon St. Brendan 
and those who were present admired the wisdom of 
the holy virgin, and gave glory to God, who seemed 
to have spoken through the lips of His gifted servant." 

Another story regarding the kindly relations between 
these two great saints, that we find in the Life of St. Ita, 
may be given here, as it speaks eloquently of some of 
their characteristic virtues. 

A spiritual child of St. Ita, in whom the saint took a 
special interest, yielded to temptation, and fell away from 
virtue, becoming an outcast and a wanderer ; until at 
length she seems to have lost her faith and sold herself 
into the servitude of a cruel task-master in Connaught, 
who is said to have been a magician. The loving heart 
of St. Ita yearned for the conversion of her fallen child, 
and she prayed earnestly for V\ex . Mtot %ome years, she 


Tlie Latin Life of St. Brendan. 235. 

discovered her miserable condition, and it wa$ revealed 
to her that if the unhappy one were again restored to 
liberty, she would do penance, and atone for her past 
crimes. But her task-master would not set his captive 
free, and then St. Ita had recourse to her friend St. 
Brendan, and entreated him to use his great influence 
with the King of Connaught to procure the liberty of 
this wretched vassal. He at once complied, and soon 
succeeded in rescuing the poor creature, and sending her 
back to St. Ita, who received her with tender com- 
passion, even with joy, as the Life relates, and gave her 
the opportunity of performing condign penance, in the 
practice of which she persevered to the end of her life.] 

XXIIL— A Miracle of the Holy Virgin St. Chiar. 

In the district of Muscry-tire, in the province of Mun- 
ster, a flame with a pestilent stench burst forth from the 
earth, which the inhabitants endeavoured* to extinguish 
with water, but in vain. St. Brendan having come to 
the place, saw that the land was being burned up by 
those flames, which were rising still higher, and he said to 
the people : " Unhappy men, you see here a fire from hell 
issuing out of the earth. " They implored his aid, and 
he said to them : " Make a three days' fast, and I will 
earnestly pray to God for you." When they had fasted 
three days, the saint bade them go to St. Chiar, a holy 
virgin, to whom God had granted the power to extinguish 
this fire, by her holy prayers. When St. Chiar had 
prayed to God against the fire, the flames were at once 
and completely extinguished, so that they never more 
appeared in the district. 

236 Brendamana. 

[Therje were no less than six territories in Munster, 
known as Muscraidhe, or the Sept-lands, according to 
John O'Donovan,* of the descendants of Cairbre Muse, 
son of Conaire Mor, monarch of Ireland, in the beginning 
of the third century. Muscraidhe-tire of our text was 
the district now comprised in the baronies of Upper 
and Lower Ormond, in North Tipperary, and withm 
this district was the church of St. Ciar or Chiar, now 
called Kilkeary, which is near the town of Nenagh. 
St. Brendan's visits to this district must have been 
frequent from an early period of his missionary career 
in Munster. We have already seent that before he 
went on his pilgrimage to Britain he had founded a 
monastery at a place balled TulcV'h-Brendan, not far 
from Lorrha, where St. Kuadhan had his church, and 
therefore probably within this district of Muscraidhe- 
tire, through which he frequently passed on his journeys 
to his house at Tulach-Brendan, which lay on the 
northern side of it. When on one of these journeys, the 
incidents that are related in the text may have come 
under the saint's notice, and he may, when appealed 
to by the people, in their alarm and distress at such an 
occurrence, have recommended them to fa^t, and to seek 
the prayers of their local saint — the holy virgin Chiar, 
in order to obtain relief. This was the saint to whom 
the ancient church of Kilkeary was dedicated, and from 
whom it had its name. There are many virgin-saints 
of that name on the calendars of our early Irish saints, 
but which of these was the patroness of Kilkeary ancient 
church in Upper Ormond, or which of them it was 
whose miraculous power St. Brendan recommended on 
this occasion, it is now impossible to determine.] 

+Jtook of Rights, page 42, n. ^ Page 197, ntpra. 

Tlie Latin Life of St. Brendan. 237 

XXIV. — St. Brendan Visits the Saints of Meath. 

Once upon a time, St. Brendan went to visit the saints 
who dwelt in the territory of Meath. At that time 
Diarmait MacCearbhail, who then reigned at Tara, as 
monarch of Ireland, had a vision in a dream, in which 
he saw two angels taking the royal collar of gold from 
his neck, and giving it to a man whom he knew not. On 
the following day St. Brendan came to visit the king, 
who, when he saw the saint, told his courtiers that this 
was the man to whom he saw his royal collar given in 
his vision. Whereupon his wise men declared to the 
king that his vision meant that hitherto sovereign rule 
in Ireland belonged alone to the kings thereof, but that 
henceforward it should be shared with the saints of 
Ireland, and that the saint now present, Brendan, should 
have extensive jurisdiction throughout the land. When 
St. Brendan heard of this vision, and of its interpre- 
tation by the wise men, he said that thus it would come to 
pass that all good things will be given in this life, as well 
as in the life to come, to those who truly serve God, 
according to the text : " Seek first the kingdom of God, 
and His justice, and all other things shall be added 
unto you." (St. Matthew, vi. 33.) And King Diarmait 
rendered great honour to St. Brendan, for he was a 
righteous and Christian king. 

[Diarmait MacCearbhail, who was monarch of Ireland 
when this visit of St. Brendan to his saintly brethren in 
Meath is said to have occurred, begun b\* \&&R5s^fl&B 

238 Brenidaniana. 

reign in " Tara of the Kings " about a.d. 544, on the 
tragic death of the Ard-Kigh, Tuatlial Maelgarbh, who 
was slain in the midst of his soldiers, by the foster- 
brother of Diarmait, at the forfeit of his own life ; and 
after a troubled reign of about twenty years, was him- 
self assassinated in a.d. 565, by Aedh Dubh, King of 
Dalaradia. There can be no doubt that St. Brendan 
had often in the course of his missionary peregrinations 
visited the holy places and the holy men who dwelt in 
Royal Meath, from the time of his earliest pilgrimage 
among the saints of Erin, when he first went forth, by 
the advice of his foster-father, St. Ere, " to learn and to 
write down all the rules and customs of the saints "'in 
many parts of Ireland, in which were, no doubt, included 
the early saints of Meath. When the renowned St. 
Finnian founded his monastery and famous school at 
Clonard, in Meath, about 530, St. Brendan is said to 
have been for some time a disciple of his, like so many 
of the illustrious saints who were his contemporaries — 
for St. Finnian of Clonard was specially honoured with 
the title of " Tutor of the saints of Ireland ;" and among 
his celebrated pupils at this famous school were the two 
Kierans (viz., of Clonmacnoise and of Saighir), the two 
Brendans (viz., of Ardfert and of Birr), the two 
Columbas (viz., Columbcille and Columb MacCrimh- 
thain), S3. Lasserian, Canice of Kilkenny, Ruadhan 
of Lorrha, and other great saints, who were designated 
among "the twelve apostles" of the Church of Ire- 
land at that time. At what particular period of St. 
Brendan's life he received those lessons of holiness and 
learning at the feet of St. Finnian of Clonard, we have no 
means of ascertaining ; but we may reasonably surmise 
that it was soon after the foundation of the School of 
Clonard, in 530 — while St. Brendan was still engaged 
io his missionary labours inTSIuii^eY,\>^lox^\i\^^^\\xvr 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 239 

age to Britain, which took place soon after that date. 
It would be interesting to know how far St. Brendan 
was influenced to undertake his great missionary enter- 
prises in Britain by his intercourse with, and by the 
advice of St. Finnian at Clonard, who had devoted many 
years of his own early missionary life to work for the 
sanctification of the Britons in Wales, under the 
guidance of the renowned Saints David of Menevia and 
Cadoc of Lancarvan, with whom St. Brendan after- 
wards laboured so fruitfully in the same missionary 
field. We may well suppose that among the lessons 
of wisdom imbibed at Clonard by St. Brendan, were 
the special results of the missionary experiences of 
St. Finnian among those Britons for whom he was soon 
to labour on a similar mission. When St. Brendan 
returned from Britain, the great school of Clonard was 
still flourishing under the personal superintendence of 
St Finnian, and we may believe that while our saint 
was preparing for his second course of missionary 
labours in Connaught, before 550, he visited his friend 
and tutor, at Clonard, more than once, when he had 
opportunities of meeting again, and renewing an early 
friendship with many of the " saints of Heath." It is 
probably one of these visits that is commemorated in our 
text— -which may have taken place before the death of 
St. Finnian, in 552 — and, therefore, early in the reign 
of Diarmait HacCearbhail, before that king had entered 
into any of those unhappy conflicts with some of the 
saints of that period, which ended so disastrously for 
himself and his dynasty. 

At this period, the relations of King Diarmait with 
the prominent saints with whom he came in contact 
were kindly and generous, as far as we know. He had 
been a liberal benefactor to St Kisim oi CtaTKuroosso» 
when he made his great foun&&\»\oxi\tafctfc, *xA\xs^ 

240 Brendaniana. 


death of that saint, some years afterwards. He had given 
the site and large endowments to St. Columba for his 
great monastery at Ceanlios, or Kells, within royal Meath, 
and about the same time we read that he allowed 
Bishop Maighnean, the founder of Kilmainham, near 
Dublin, and of Kilmainhambeg in Meath, to address 
several sermons to himself and his court at Tara, with 1 

such effect that many of his courtiers renounced the 
world, and entered religious houses ; and the king 
himself made his confessions (Coibsena, in Irish text) 
to the holy bishop, and bestowed abundant arms upon 
him and his companions.* 

At this period of his history, King Diarmait was very 
probably " a righteous and Christian monarch/' as our 
text declares him to have been, who rendered due honour 
to all other saints, as well as to St. Brendan, on proper 
occasions. But a change seems to have come over his 
spirit and dispositions in that respect in the course of his 
reign ; and perhaps we have in the curious story of his 
dream, narrated in the text, an inkling of the motives 
and influences that brought about that change. He 
saw in his dream the collar of gold, the emblem of his 
royal power, taken from his neck by angels, and given 
to one whom he afterwards recognised to be his visitor, 
St. Brendan ; and then his " wise men/' probably some 
Druids, whom the king is stated to have often employed 
as his soothsayers towards the close of his reign, inter- 
preted his dream to mean that his sovereign power 
would pass from him to the saints of Ireland, who should 
henceforth be the supreme rulers of the land. No wonder 
that King Diarmait, who was very tenacious of his royal 
authority, and very jealous of any interference with his 

* O'Curry'a Manner* and Customs, \o\. \.> ^. roii^'rote. 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 241 

sovereign rights from any quarter, should, on hearing 
this interpretation of his vision, grow somewhat appre- 
hensive of the ever-increasing influence of the illustrious 
saints of his time, and begin to resent their claims for 
certain privileges, such as that of " sanctuary/' as an 
infringement of his royal power. Hence may have 
come his arbitrary and insolent treatment of the great 
St. Columba, from whose protecting arms he tore, with 
every mark of indignity, Cornan, the son of the King of 
Connaught, who had taken sanctuary with the saint, 
after the commission of an unpremeditated crime, for 
which, however, the king put him to death without mercy. 
This cruel violation of St. Columba's privilege of 
sanctuary by the death of this Connaught prince, is said 
to have occasioned the war against King Diarmait which 
ended so disastrously for him in the battle of Cuild- 
remhne, in the present county of Sligo, wherein three 
thousand of the king's troops were slain, and his power 
was almost completely broken. This is said to have occur- 
red on the very day on which St. Brendan .founded his 
great church and city of Clonfert, in the territory of Hy- 
Maine,in the south-east of the present county of Galway. 
Within this territory, ruled as its chief at that time 
Aedh Guaire, who was a special friend of St. Brendan's, 
whose foundation at Clonfert he liberally patronized. 
This chief, a few years afterwards, grievously offended 
King Diarmait MacCearbhail by illusing and, on some 
provocation, slaying one of the royal heralds who had 
come to him with the king's commission to collect 
certain royal tributes from his territory. Guaire, to 
escape the vengeance of Diarmait, fled for protection 
to his cousin, the Bishop Senach, residing in Lower 
Ormond, on the other side of the Shannon; but the 
bishop, not deeming the fugitive sufficiently safe from 
the power of the king, under his o^niv ^Tote^sse^ \^a^ 

242 Brendaniana. 

him conveyed without loss of time to the more sacred 
and secure sanctuary of the celebrated St. Euadhan of 
Lorrha, in that district, who is said to have been the 
uncle of Aedh Guaire. The king discovered the place of 
his retreat, and came from Tara, with a strong force, to 
Lorrha to demand from St. Euadhan the delivery of 
Guaird into his hands. This the saint peremptorily 
refused ; whereupon the king took him by force, in 
violation of the privilege of the saintly sanctuary, and 
dragged him ofF, a prisoner, to Tara, to be punished for 
bis crime. Thither St. Euadhan closely followed, accom- 
panied by St. Brendan, as the special friend of Guaire, 
the princely benefactor of his church at Clonfert ; and 
by Bishop Senach, with whom he had at first taken 
refuge. Those saints, " with their clerics, and their bells, 
and their croziers," pleaded hard for mercy for the 
criminal, but the king obdurately refused to release his 
prisoner, even though all the courtiers and chiefs who 
were present joined with the bishops in asking his pardon- 
Then, *as the story runs in the Annals of Chnmacnoise, 
" St. Euadhan and the bishop who was with him took 
their bells that they had, which they rung hardly, and 
they cursed the king and the place, and prayed God 
that no king or queen would or could ever dwell in 
Tara, and that it should be waste for ever, without 
court or palace ; and so it fell out accordingly." In the 
following year, the king was murdered, in consequence, 
it was believed, of his insults to St. Euadhan, and after 
him no king or queen ever reigned again in Tara.] 


The Lathi Life of St Brendan. 243 

XXV. — St. Brendan explains to his Brethren 


One day when St. Brendan was on a journey, a great 
storm of hail and snow arose upon him and his com- 
panions on the way. Some of the brethren said to St. 
Brendan : " Holy father, the cold in the infernal regions 
is not more intense than this we feel now." "You 
speak like ignorant rustics," rejoined the saint. " We 
have seen Judas, the betrayer of our Lord, in a dreadful 
sea, on the Lord's day, wailing and lamenting, seated 
on a rugged and slimy rock, which was now submerged 
by the waves and again emerged from them somewhat. 
Against the rock there rushed a fiery wave from the 
east, and a wave of icy coldness from the west alternately, 
which drenched Judas in a frightful manner ; and yet 
this grievous punishment seemed to him a relief from 
pain, for thus the mercy of God granted this place to 
him on the Sundays as some ease amidst his torments. 
What, therefore, must be the torments suffered in hell 
itself? " When the brethren heard this, they besought 
the Almighty God to take pity on their manifold 

[Here we have a very early version, perhaps the 
earliest germ, of the interesting legend of St. Brendan's 
interview with Judas Iscariot during his voyage in the 
northern seas, which is told so dramatically in the 
twelfth chapter of the " Voyage," * and in the poem of 

* See pp. 162-16&, «ipva % 

244 Brendaniana. 

Mathew Arnold appended to that chapter. The 
" moral " of the tale, as we have it in this primeval 
version, was plainly to impress upon all the unspeakable 
intensity of the torments of the reprobate in hell, by a 
comparison or contrast with Judas's grievous sufferings 
on that rock in the ocean, which were a mitigation of, 
and a respite from, his far more dreadful torments in 
hell, granted to him, through the mercy of God, in 
honour of the Lord's day. In later versions, the 
" moral" is pointed somewhat differently, and the 
respite of Judas is attributed to the mercy of God 
remembering on his behalf, even amidst his justly- 
merited torments in hell, some " small fragments of 
goodness M he had shown during his life ; as Mathew 
Arnold beautifully expresses it : 

That germ of kindness, in the womb 

Of mercy caught, did not expire ; 
Outlives my guilt, outlives my doom, 

And friends me in the pit of fire.* 

It may seem difficult to reconcile this "moral" with 
the principles o sound theology, especially with that 
text of the prophet : " If the just man turn himself 
away from his justice, and work iniquity, ... all his 
justices which he hath done shall not be remembered." t 
But the sentiment may, however, be quite orthodox, if 
applied, with some scope for poetic license, to the 
awarding of tlie final doom of the reprobate, while 
mercy may still temper justice, and each one shall be 
judged " according to his works, be the same good or 

In the early English prose version of this tale, given 
in the Golden Legend of Wynkyn de Worde,J the details 

* See page 167, supra* 
t Ezechiel xviii. 24. 
X See Appendix, posset. 

Tlte Latin Life of St. Brendan. 245 

of Judas's " fragments of goodness " vary from those 
set down in our Latin version; the " prongs" or 
"tongs" are changed into "ox-tongues " — which, the 
Golden Legend makes Judas tell : " I gave some time 
to two preestes to pray for me. I bought them with 
mine owne money; and therefore they ease me, 
because the fysshes of the sea gnaw on them and 
spare me." • . 

This version has been followed by Mr. Sebastian 
Evans in his poem on St. Brendan, from which I 
insert those stanzas : — 

And Judas answered : " By Christ's dear grace, 
This day am I loosed from mine own due place 
With Herod and Pilate and Caiaphas ; 

" For He whom the gates of the hells obey, 
Each winter hath granted me here to stay 
From Christmas Eve for a night and a day. 

" And this is my paradise, here alone 
To sit with my cloth and tongues and stone, 
The sole three things in the world mine own. 

" This cloth I bought from the Lord's privy purse, 
But gave to a leper. It hath this curse, 
That it beats on my skin, but it saves from worse. 

" These tongues I gave to the poor for meat, 
In the name of Christ — and the fish that eat 
Thereon as they list, forbear my feet. 

" This stone I found by a road where it lay, 
And set for a step in a miry way; 
Therefore sit I on stone, not ice, this day ! "] 

246 Brendaniana. 

XXVI. — St. Brendan exhorts his Brethren to 


On another day, when Brendan was travelling through 
a forest, a violent storm was raging, and by the force of 
the gale trees were blown down on every side as he and 
his companions journeyed on. One of the brethren 
said to the others : " We are in great danger from those 
falling trees." Then Brendan told them : "One night, 
while all our crew were asleep in the boat on the wide 
ocean, I alone remained awake, and we came to an 
island which had many openings through it. It was 
supported on four great legs over "the sea, and between 
those legs our boat passed under the island, and thus 
we sailed right through, while the island stood above 
us. Be it known to you, therefore, brethren, that God, 
who sustains that island over the sea in that manner, 
and who allowed us to sail in safety under it, can save 
us without hurt from the danger of those falling trees." 
On hearing this example the brethren grew strong in 
their confidence in Christ. 

[Among the " Wonders of the Ocean " recounted in 
the tenth chapter of the " Voyage of St. Brendan," • 
one of the most marvellous is that " chrystal column in 
the sea " with its " rare canopy of silvery sheen," which 
the saint saw at some distance from him, " on the day 
on which three Masses had been said" (Christmas 
Day). This was, no doubt, an iceberg, and the descrip- 

* See page 158, «upva. 


The Latin Life of St. Bre)idan. 247 

tion of it given by the ancient story-teller in the text 
of the " Voyage " is very interesting, and though the 
phrases may not be quite scientific, they are very 
graphic and fairly accurate. Here, in the above text, 
we have a still more primitive account of this same 
phenomenon, given in what must have been an archaic 
tradition of one of St. Brendan's instructions to his 
religious, the " moral* ' of which he pointed by an 
allusion to his wonderful passage through " the island 
supported over the sea on four great legs," in which 
guise we may still recognise the primeval story of the 

Those references to incidents of the " Voyage of St. 
Brendan/ ' which the fragments of early tradition, such 
as we find here in this Latin Life, ascribe to the saint 
himself in his moral discourses to his brethren, would 
show how widespread and enduring was the popular 
belief in the reality of the great voyage, and of many of 
its legendary incidents. It may not be out of place to 
set down here some r^milar allusions to the voyages of 
our saint, taken from the Lives of some of his saintly 

In the Life of St. Abban, the great Leinster saint, in 
the Codex Salmanticensis, we read that he made special 
friendship and brotherhood with St. Brendan, and 
" that soon after the latter's seven years' pilgrimage 
on the ocean, he paid him a special visit, of which 
St. Brendan being apprised by an angel, went forth to 
meet him, and welcomed him with great joy. Then he 
related at large to his visitor all the wonderful things 
he had seen on the ocean ; and when the saints had thus 
spent some days in mutual solace, and having estab- 
lished lasting brotherhood between themselves and their 
successors, St. Abban returned to his own monBAtoc^! 9 

In the Life of St. Elannan, "Estoow <& YSJSsSSk*^ 

248 Brendaniana. 

the same Codex Salmanticensis, St. Molua relates a 
prediction of St. Brendan's, regarding the birth of 
St. Flannan. St. Molua, who had founded the ancient 
Church of Killaloe, desired, in his old age, to have 
St. Flannan, the son of the King of Thomond, Theodoric 
or Turlough, appointed as his successor ; and he 
addressed the assembled prelates of the clergy and the 
chiefs of the territory, in presence of King Theodoric, 
as follows : — " The time is now come when I must, 
according to the prophecy of St. Brendan, retire and 
give place to this holy youth whom God has chosen ; 
for among the many marvellous things the holy father 
Brendan had seen and related during his voyage to the 
islands of the ocean, being full of the Holy Spirit as 
he always was, he predicted that on the banks of the 
Shannon there would arise, like the Star from Jacob, 
one of the royal blood, who should smite and put to 
flight the princes and the rulers of darkness. yt 

In the Life of St. Fintan Munnu, son of Tulcan, also 
in the Codex Salmanticensis, there is related a curious 
vision the saint is said to have had, in which he saw 
the " Land of Promise of the Saints," and places 
therein marked out for himself and St. Colombcille on 
one side, and places for St. Brendan and St. Canice on 
the other side, not far away. This vision was told 
only after the death of St. Fintan by a holy hermit, who 
stated he heard it from the saint himself.] 

XXVIL— -St. Brendan Saves the Province of 


Once upon a time the King of Munster came into 
Connaught, with a large army, to lay waste that 
country. St Brendan, then very old, at the entreaty 

The Latin Life of St Brendan. 249 

of the men of Connaught, went out to meet the 
Munstermen, and besought them to make peace, but 
these men in their pride would grant neither peace 
nor truce to the saint. But when they were proceed- 
ing to ravage the country, they were for a whole day 
kept moving round in a circle at one place, and could 
make no advance. Then they felUthat a miracle 
had been wrought against them, and, being seized with 
fear, they decided to return to their own country. 
Thus through the power of God, they went home 
empty-handed; for who can resist the will of the 
Almighty ? 

When St. Brendan was returning from these men, 
there was brought to him on the way a boy who was 
dumb from his birth ; and the man of God having 
blessed his tongue, the boy at once spoke distinctly, 
and all who were present gave glory to God. 

[This incident must have occurred some years after 
the foundation of Clonfert, when St. Brendan was a 
very old man (Se?iex, in the Latin text), probably on 
the verge of his ninetieth year. The loving trust and 
profound veneration which he had won from the people 
of Connaught by the extraordinary holiness of his life, 
and the untiring labours of his apostolic ministry 
amongst them for so many years, induced them, with 
their King Aedh MacEochaidh at their head, to entreat 
the interposition of the saint, as peace-maker between 
them and their Munster invaders. He went forth on 
his mission of charity, and, like another St. Leo, stood 
bravely between his people and their relentless enemies^ 
whom he, with a power and success \\o\fes& Staa^ ^&sm 

260 Brendaniana. 

of the great Leo himself, deterred and turned back 
from the havoc they sought to bring on his country. 
There is no record, as far as I can discover, in our 
ancient annals, of any such invasion as this of the 
Munstermen into Connaught, occurring about the 
date ; but the early records of that time are very meagre, 
and there can be no doubt that many intestine broils 
and local wars and conflicts such as this were carried on 
then, as well as at other periods of Irish history, of 
which no account has come down to our times.] 

XXVIII.— St. Brendan Visits i^ts Sister, St.Briga, 


IN Clonfert. 

St, Brendan, when very old, went to visit his sister, 
St. Bryg, who, under his direction, was governing a 
convent of nuns at Eanach-duin (now Annadown), in 
the province of Connaught and in the district of the 
Hy-Bruin. While he was biding there, on a Sunday 
after he had offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Body and 
Blood of Christ, the venerable saint said to his sister 
and to the brethren who were with him : " My very dear 
friends, on this day the Lord my God summons me to 
life eternal, and I adjure you, in the name of Christ, to do 
exactly what I now tell you , if you would have my blessing. 
Conceal my death here, until my body has been carried 
to my city of Clonfert, for there I have chosen the place 
of my resurrection. If the people here about come to 
know of my death amongst them, they will surely bury 
me here against my wishes. You will therefore act in 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 251 

this maimer; place my corpse in a waggon, and cover it 
over carefully with other things. You will send only 
one brother in charge of the waggon, who will tell all 
who ask him that he is carrying the goods of 
St, Brendan, to his own city of Clonfert. All who may 
meet him will then let him pass, except one man, a 
soldier, named Curryn, blind of the left ,eye. This man 
will not believe the words of the brother, but, more 
cunning than others, will sharply question him as to 
what he was carrying so secretly, and will closely search 
the waggon. When he finds and recognises my body, 
he will in a terrible voice order the brother to leave 
amongst them the saint of God ; and addressing me he 
will cry out: 'Here in our country you will be buried 
with all honour, so that your resurrection may be 
amongst us, man of God.' 

"Then the brother shall look into a trench beside him, 
and seeing there a lump of pure gold, shall offer it to this 
soldier, saying : ' Take this gold given by God, and let 
me freely go my way.' This the man will refuse, and 
then the brother shall promise : ' You will have the chief 
power in your tribe, and your descendants after you, if 
you allow me to pass on.' But the man, not trusting 
this promise, will still prevent a passage ; and then the 
brother shall declare to him : ' You will not have eternal 
life, unless you permit the saint of God to be borne to 
that place where he ordered his burial ; and a sure sign 
I give you of the truth of what I say, when I tell you 
the thought of your heart when you met me, was to 
usurp the chieftaincy of your tribe by murdering members 
of your own family.' When the m^ii^\VV\Jc^^\^x\s.^5K 

252 Brendaniana. 

another the secret thoughts of his heart, and will know 
thereby that what was promised would surely come to 
pass, he will allow the brother to proceed in peace with 
my body, who will thereupon earnestly bless him, and 
go On his way rejoicing." 

When his sister and the brethren heard this adjuration, 
and this prediction of what was to happen, they promised 
the holy father that they would do what he had 

[Eanach-duin(" the marsh ormoorof the fort"), latterly 
called Annaghdown, was situated on the eastern shore 
of Lough Corrib, some distance 4Vom Inisquin to the 
south, on the north side of a rocky inlet of the lake, into 
which a small stream flows. Here can be seen at 
present a picturesque group of interesting ruins, 
consisting of the extensive remains of an abbey and 
monastery, of a nunnery, and of other ecclesiastical 
buildings; while on the other side of the stream there 
are still remaining a tall square castle, in fine preserva- 
tion, and the walls of the bishop's residence, with the 
enclosed holy wells of St. Brendan, and of St. Cormac 
beside them. We have no account of the exact date 
when St. Brendan founded the convent at Eanach- 
duin, over which he placed his fondly-loved sister, 
St. Bryg, to govern a community of nuns. It was 
•robably not long after the foundation of his island 
aonastery on Inisquin, on which occasion, as we have 
een above (page 225, supra), he received from King 
Aodh MacEochaidh a grant of the whole island. While 
the saint, with his monks, was working zealously, from 
8 house on Inisquin, to instruct and reclaim the wild 
hall-pagan tribes that dwelt on the borders of Lougli 


The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 253 

Corrib, he must have felt how much the success of those 
apostolic labours would be promoted by the co-operation 
of a community of nuns in edifying and educating 
the people of the district. Hence, we may surmise, 
St. Brendan called to his aid his holy sister, St. Bryg, 
from the convent in Kerry — or perhaps from one of 
those nunneries on the great plain of Aei (Co.Roscommon), 
founded by St. Brigid soon after her sojourn in Kerry, 
where she had been for years a professed nun, and 
placed her in charge, under his direction, of this convent 
of nuns at Eanach-duin, on the shores of Lough Corrib. 
Until this reference to St. Bryg, we find no mention 
of her intercourse or sisterly relations with St. Brendan, 
in any Life or story of the saint that is now accessible, 
except the interesting allusion in the Irish Life,* to her 
companionship with him in his early youth, when 
he was under the pupilage of Bishop Ere, which 
tells us : " At this time there lived with him, Bryg, who 
was an own sister of his; and great was his affection for 
her, as the attendance of the angels about her was 
visible to him." St. Bryg then had been the playmateand 
child-nurse i of the youthful Brendan, and during all 
the years that had passed from that time until she took 
charge of his nunnery at Eanach-duin, the "great 
affection " of their youthful relations, no doubt, continued 
to grow in strength and fervour. Hence we may well 
believe that when " King Aodh MacEochaidh," as the 
Book of Bally mote tells, "gave Eanach-duin to God and 
Brendan/' for the purpose of founding a convent of 
nuns there, St. Bryg promptly complied with the invi- 
tation of her saintly brother, to govern the community 
under his guidance. 

* See page 13, supra. 

f She ^a« probably some yeats his )uxt\o? a&*\& wj^w<A\sx»~ 

254 Brendanianu. 

It was probably while St. Brendan lived at and worked 
his holy mission from Inisquin, that he sought out a 
deeper solitude, wherein to refresh his spirit, by a closer 
union with God in prayer and contemplation — one of 
those " deserts in the sea," which had, all his life long, 
so many attractions for him. On the extreme west of 
Erris, off the coast of Mayo, lies the island of Inis-gluair 
ot Inishgloria, on which there are still remains of an 
oratory and cell, said to have been founded by the 
saint, and which yet bear his name. Another such 
" desert in the sea " he resorted to also, off the coast of 
Connemara, on an island called Inisnee, at the mouth of 
the Owanmore or Ballinahinch river, on which there are 
the ruins of an ancient oratory dedicated to St. Brendan. 

When our saint had founded his great church and 
monastery at Clonfert, he seems to have committed 
the government of that house and school to his special 
friend, Bishop Moennean, and to have still abided 
frequently at his island monastery of Inisquin. Here 
he was training to holiness many fervent disciples, 
among others St. Meldan, who is said to have succeeded 
him in the abbacy of Inisquin after his death, and to 
have rendered that house even more famous than it was 
under the rule of St. Brendan, about a.d. 580. Into the 
little hospice attached to this monastery St. Brendan 
received his nephew, Fintan, the West Kerry prince, 
and his wife, the beautiful Gelgeis, when, after their 
secret marriage, they fled from the wrath of the royal 
father of the latter; and here, about 570, was born the 
child who afterwards became the renowned St. Fursey, 
having received his earliest nurture and education from 
St. Brendan himself, and later on from St. Meldan, 
and probably also from another saintly disciple of 
St. Brendan, named Beoan. St. Fursey in after life 
venerated those two saints in a special manner, and in 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 255 

the accounts he gave of those wonderful visions which 
made his name so famous, he represents St. Meldan 
and St. Beoan as appearing to him in angelic forms, 
among the celestial spirits who had been communing 
with him, and as addressing him in lengthened dis- 
courses full of heavenly knowledge and wisdom ; after 
which they directed him to return again to the earth, 
and to announce to the world what he had seen and 
heard in his ecstatic visions. Many years afterwards 
when St. Fursey proceeded on his apostolic missions 
to England and to France, he carried away with him 
the relics of those saintly disciples of St. Brendan — 
St. Meldan and St. Beoan whom he loved and venerated 
as his holy patrons. 

Though St. Brendan devoted much of his time and 
zealous labours to his house on Inisquin, we must believe 
that he frequently visited his church and school at 
Clonfert, and took an earnest part in the ministrations 
and apostolic works of the community there. In the 
beautiful legend of the angel's visit to him -in the form 
of a bird (given at p. 270, postea) we get an interesting 
glimpse. of the saint's fervent ministrations on some 
of those visits. He tells us, in that legend, how it 
happened that he could not listen to earthly music 
after hearing the heavenly strains from the angel: 
" One day, just seven years ago, as I was in this church 
(of Clonfert) after preaching here, and after Mass, all 
the clergy having gone to their refection, I was left 
alone here, and having made a visit to the Body of 
Christ, a great longing for my Lord seized me, and a 
trembling and an awe came upon me ; then I saw a 
radiant bird, which perched on the altar/' St. Brendan 
gives this account to the " student-harper," who found 
him in the same church " on Easter Sunday, seven 
years before his death, after he hadc^\yt^\^^^^vro^ 

256 Brendaniana. 

Office, preached and said Mass ;" when, as a special 
privilege, he was permitted to play on his harp " three 
lively strains " for the aged saint. If these circum- 
stantial accounts of St. Brendan's ministrations on 
Sundays, at his church of Clonfert, be not all pure 
fancy, which we have no reason to believe they are, 
we have here an edifying picture of a u tireless worker 
for God," the pater laboriosus, as St. Gildas styled him 
in his middle life during his mission in Britain, per- 
severing to extreme old age in the laborious works of 
his apostolic ministry. 

All this time St. Brendan maintained friendly rela- 
tions with many of the illustrious saints who were his 
contemporaries, and with some of them he seems to 
have been on terms of special intimacy, such as St. 
Buadhan of Lorrha, as we have seen in some instances 
referred to in previous pages, and also St. Canice of 
Kilkenny and Aghaboe. This great saint, though born 
in Glen given (county Derry), according to the more 
reliable pedigrees, came from the same Kerry stock as 
St. Brendan himself, being descended from Alt, the 
Stipes of the Altraighe, in the fifth remove. We read 
in the Life of St. Canice, that in his youth he lived some 
years in Wales at the monastery of Lancarvan under 
St. Cadoc, by whom he was being educated. Here he very 
probably met St. Brendan, who tarried there about the 
same time, and the friendship then commenced was 
renewed and improved when St. Canice returned to 
Ireland. Soon after the foundation of the Church of 
Clonfert, St. Brendan employed artificers to make a 
gold chalice for the use of the altar there. The supply 
of gold material not being sufficient, St. Brendan sent 
to his friend, St. Canice, for some of the precious metal, 
"because," as the story tells, "on account of his 
frequent visits to Britain, Vie was likely to have it." 


The Lathi Life of St. Brendan. 257 

However, he had none to give on this occasion, and he 
was so grieved and ashamed at refusing any such favour 
to St. Brendan, that he produced the needful quantity 
of the purest gold by an extraordinary miracle, and sent 
it to his friend, who had the gold chalice finished with 
this material, which chalice, as the Life of St. Canice, 
in the Codex Sahnanticensis, assures us, "remains 
to the present day." * 

About this time, as we read in Adamnan's Life of 
St. Columba ;+ " four great holy founders of monasteries 
came from Ireland to visit St. Columba in the island 
of Hinba. ,, These were St. Comgall, founder of the 
great monastery and school at Benchor (Bangor, 
Jtodic) on the southern shore of Belfast Lough ; 
St. Canice, founder of Aghaboe and Kilkenny ; St. Cormac 
Ua Liathain, a favourite disciple of St. Columba's, whom 
he had appointed abbot of his great foundation at 
Durrow (county Westmeath), when he was leaving 
Ireland for Iona ; and St. Brendan of Clonfert, the 
greatest " founder of uionasteries " of theni all. These 
holy men invited their host, St. Columba, to celebrate 

* Another indication of the special friendship of St. Brendan and 
St. Canice we find in a curious Scholium in the Feilire of St. Acngus, 
appended to Brendan's festival, at May 16th :—' 

Ao it a Chointiig, is Barrai ocas Brcnaind diblimib, Cipe Mirages nee 
dibhyfertaiin trir oca digail ; that is, in literal English: "The alliance 
of Canice, aud Finnbarr, and Brendan with each other ; whoever outrages 
any of them, the miraculous powers of the three will avenge it." 

This alliance must refer as much to the successors and the * * families " 
of these saints as to themselves ; indeed, in the case of St. Finnbarr of 
Cork, he was not of the age to make such an alliance with St. Brendan, 
who died when Finnbarr was very young ; but the relations of his great 
school at Cork, with the successors of Brendan at Clonfert, notably with 
St. Cuuimiuii Fada, fourth bishop of Clonfert, who was educated at 
St. Finnbarr's famous school, were very friendly. 

t L. iii.. c. xvii. 

258 Brendaniana. 

Hqjy Mass in their presence ; and then, as Adamnan 
relates: " During the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of 
the Mass, St. Brendan Mac Ua Alti saw, as he told 
Comgall and Cannech afterwards, a ball of fire,. like a 
comet, burning very brightly on the head of Columba 
the whole time he stood before the altar offering the 
Holy Sacrifice. •' 

This notable reunion of these illustrious saints took 
place on the island of Hinba,* where St. Columba 
founded an oratory or cell, some time after his establish- 
ment at Iona, and whither he retired occasionally for 
closer and less distracted communion with God than he 
found possible at his greater church and monastery 
there. Adamnan relates, circumstantially, several of 
those retreats of Columba to this island, and the 
wonderful manifestations of the Divine favours and the 
communications of the Holy Spirit made to him there 
on such occasions. 

On this occasion of the visit of St. Brendan and his 
saintly companions to the island, St. Columba was 
probably engaged in one of those spiritual retreats, and 
the globe of fire which St. Brendan was permitted to 
behold flaming over his bead during the celebration of 
the Holy Mass, was, no doubt, a meet emblem of the 
fulness and fervour with which the Spirit of God com- 
municated His graces to the ardent soul of the saint 
while celebrating the divine mysteries. 

St. Brendan was several years older than the other 
saints who were present. He was then, probably, far 
beyond his eightieth year, for the incident must have 
occurred some years after the founding of the monastery 
at Iona by Columba, in a.d. 565, when St. Brendan 
had already passed that great age. .It is hard to think 

* .Not aurely identified •, it lay not far from Iona. 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 259 

that the venerable patriarch would, at such a period of 
his life, have travelled from the shores of Lough Corrib 
or from Clonfert, hard by the Shannon, over land and 
sea, to distant Iona or Hinba, for the mere purpose of 
a friendly visit to St. Columba, and we may well believe 
that the arduous journey had a much higher and holier 
purpose. We have already seen * that St. Brendan had 
laboured long and successfully in an ap6stolic mission 
in North Britain and the Isles, of what was afterwards 
called Scotland, more than twenty years before Columba 
had set foot on Iona or commenced his first mission 
amongst his kinsmen, the Albanian Scots; and we may 
surmise that even amid the cares and duties of his 
arduous ministry in Ireland during all those years, our 
saint did not lose sight of, nor a loving interest in, the 
fruits of his apostolic labours among the Orkneys and 
the Isles, of which he has been since honoured as the 
apostle. He very probably visited the scenes of those 
early labours from time to time, in order to preserve and 
promote the growth of the seed of Christian faith and 
morality that he had sown ; and perhaps it was in the 
course of one of those tours of visitation, which he 
continued to make even in his extreme old age, that the 
incidental visit to Columba on the island of Hinba took 
place. Here he found the great saint who was destined 
to be his worthy successor in the apostolate of that 
land and of those isles wherein he himself had laboured 
so zealously ; and it may have been that, though, like the 
high priest of old, he was then the " lamp of God 
about to be extinguished," he saw in the vision of the 
" globe of fire, blazing like a comet, over the head of 
Columba, ,, the augury and the consoling assurance that 
this new apostle of the Northern Picts and of the 

* See page 2U, ante. 

260 Brendaniana. 

Orkneys and the Isles, as Columba has been justly 
styled, was raised up and specially blessed by God to 
carry on, with more signal success and more glorious 
results, the apostolic work he had himself commenced 
many years before. 

If St. Brendan thus evinced a paternal interest in the 
fruits of his early missions in North Britain by those 
kindly visits to the scenes of his labours there, we must 
believe that he failed not to make similar visits 
occasionally to those religious foundations throughout 
Munster, and especially those in and near his native 
district in West Kerry, which were the earliest, and 
therefore probably the dearest, objects of his holy zeal 
and solicitude. It would be strange, indeed, that the 
venerable father should &vour his spiritual children in 
the islands of Bute and Kilbrandon and Tirree, and 
many other islands on the .coasts of North Britain, with 
those paternal visits, and omit similar tokens of an 
affectionate interest in the holy communities at 
Inis-da-droman, on the Shannon, and at Ardfert, his 
first love, and at the other monasteries of West Kerry, 
who all venerated him as their founder and their holy 
patron. He therefore visited all those houses from 
time to time, probably to the latest period of his life ; 
and perhaps it was on one of the latest of those visita- 
tion tours apiong his West Kerry foundations, that 
the incident occurred to him that is related in the 
interesting story* of the "Holy Well of Brendan's 
Anointing," where he is said to have sailed in his 
currach, from one of his oratories on the Blasquet 
Islands, across Dingle Bay, to visit the little monastery 
of his disciple St. Beoan, in the Glen (bar. of Iveragh), 

* See p*$e Tl% y yottea. 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 261 

the remains of which are still known as Kilbeoanigh 
(the cell or church of St. Beoan). 

While we contemplate the venerable patriarch thus 
visiting his spiritual children in his numerous religious 
houses in Ireland and Scotland, we may feel how justly 
Adamnan ranks him among " the great holy founders 
of monasteries," and we may well apply to him the 
praises bestowed by* St. Bernard upon another of 
them, St. Comgall of Bangor : " He was the parent of 
many thousand saints, and the head of many religious 
establishments, that were holy and fruitful in saints. 
. . . Indeed, the spiritual children of this holy man 
had so multiplied throughout the whole of Ireland and 
Scotland, that in them would seem to have been 
verified the words of the Psalmist : ' TJiou hast visited 
the earth, and hast plentifully watered it; thou liast 
many ways enriched it. The river of God is filled with 
water; fill up plentifully the streams thereof and 
multiply its fruits." (Ps. lxiv.) 

Occupied to the last with devoted and fruitful labours 
and journeyings by land and sea, for the glory of God 
and the salvation of souls, such as the scant materials 
at hand enabled me to shadow forth dimly in the 
preceding pages, our saint attained the patriarchal age 
of ninety-four years, and the period had at length 
arrived, when, like another great patriarch of monks, 
St. Anthony, he should feel and say : " I, as it is written, 
go the way of my fathers, for I perceive I am called by 
the Lord." St. Atha nasius, in his Life of St. Antlwny,* 
tells how the saint, when he knew his death was 
approaching, withdrew, for some time, from all his 
outer monasteries, "into the inner mountain," where 
he loved to dwell, and there retaining with him only 

♦ Life of St. Malachy, c. vi. \ S *& - 

262 Brendaniana. 

the two ascetics who had ministered to him for some 
years on account of his age, he gave them strict charge 
and directions about the burial of his body in the earth 
where no one may know the place except themselves, 
and then prepared to die. 

In like manner, St. Brendan, knowing the hour was 
approaching when he should depart this life, withdrew 
from all his other religious houses and retired to the 
convent of his beloved sister, at Eanach-duin, and 
retaining with him there a few of his brethren, to whom 
he gave those minute directions regarding the disposal 
of his body, and its sure burial " in the place of his 
resurrection " in the sacred soil of Clonfert-Brendan, 
which are detailed in our text so dramatically, he 
foretold to his sister the time of his death, as we 
read in his Life in the Codex Salmanticensis more at 
ength. Here we are told : " The blessed soldier of 
Christ, Brendan, knowing that his death was approach- 
ing, came to visit his own sister, the holy virgin Bryg. 
Among many other things, he foretold to her the place 
of her resurrection in these words : "Not here, but in 
your own country of the Tragei * will your resurrection 
be. Proceed thither, therefore, for the people there 
will obtain God's mercy through you ; there you will 
find a house of monks, not of nuns ; but God is now 
calling me to Himself, out of the prison of this, body/ 
Whereupon his sister, in great grief, said to him : 
1 Beloved father, your death shall be death to us all, 
for if in your absence during life, it was hard to live 
without you, what must it be when you are dead ? ' 
Then Brendan said to her : ' On the third day from this 
I will go the way of my fathers.' "] 

* Probably the people who dwelt near the shore ( Traig, in Irish) of 
Tralee Bay, where St. Bryg was born. 


The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 263 

XXIX.— Death of St. Brendan in his Ninety- 
fourth year. 

Soon after this St. Brendan gave his blessing to his 
sister and to the brethren, and, proceeding to the 
convent, passed beyond the threshold. Here, raising 
his eyes to heaven, he said: "Into Thy hands, Lord, I 
commend my soul ; save me, Lord, my God ;" and then 
the aged most holy Brendan gave forth his soul to God, 
on Sunday, the 17th of the calends of June (May 16th), 
having completed the ninety-third year of his age. 

His corpse was afterwards placed in a waggon, and . 
one brother was sent in charge of it, as the saint had 
directed, and everything occurred on the journey as he 
had foretold before he died. A great multitude of holy 
men assembled from all quarters on the occasion, and 
his blessed body that had been borne, in the manner 
related, from the convent of Eanach-duin to his own 
city of Clonfert — a three days' journey, was buried in 
the place of honour, with all glory and reverence; 
with psalmody and spiritual canticles ; our Lord Jesus 
Christ reigning over heaven and earth, and all creatures, 
in union with the Father and Holy Spirit, for ever and 
ever. Amen. 

Here ends the Life of St. Brendan, abbot and con- 

[Inihe Codex Salmanticensis there are some pathetic 
touches added in the account of the death scene of our 
saint: "On the Lord's day, after offering the Holy 
Sacrifice of the altar, St. Bren&m sa»\<k to Nttas^fc *fc*scfc* 

264 Brendaniana. 

him : ' Commend to God in your prayers my departure 
from this life.' Whereupon his sister, Bryg, said to 
him: 'Dear father, what have you to fear?' 1 1 fear, 
said he, ' as I pass away all alone, and as the journey is 
darksome; I fear the unknown region, the presence of 
the King, the sentence of the Judge.'" He then directed 
the brethren to remove his body secretly to Clonfert, 
lest, if this were done openly, it would be detained by 
the people on the way. Having afterwards given to 
all a last embrace, and imparted to his sister loving 
messages for all absent friends, he passed to his eternal 
rest in the ninety-sixth year of his age." Here the 
age of St. Brendan is set down as two years more than 
what is stated in our text, but according to the best 
authorities he was born in 483 (probably in March Qr 
April), and died on the 16th of May, a.d. 577, when he 
had well entered on his ninety-fourth year. His festival 
is marked in all our ancient martyrologies and calendars 
at the 16th May, which is stated to have been the day 
of his death; thus in the Feilire or Festology of 
St. Aengus Cele-De, we have on that day an entry 

" The summons of Brendan of Cluain 
Into the victorious eternal life ;" 

and the gloss adds: "ie., the calling of Brendan of 
Clonfert to the kingdom of God." 

What a beautiful and holy death was this of our 
saint on that Sunday in May, when in the arms of his 
saintly sister Bryg, the "child-nurse of his early youth," 
surrounded by her community of holy nuns, and by 
the brethren whom he specially loved, and whom he 
chose among all his spiritual sons, to minister to him 
the last offices and the last consolations of religion — 
after having just before said his last Mass, and having 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 265 

received the all-atoning Victim in the Holy Sacrifice 
for the last time, he gave forth his blessed soul in peace 
and holy joy to the Divine Master whom he had served 
so faithfully and so zealously during his long life. In a 
Lectio Brevis* (Lesson) for his Office, in some ancient 
MSS. we read of the vision of this holy death, with which 
St. Columba was favoured in Iona : " On a certain day, 
while St. Columba was abiding in Ioni\, he called very 
early in the morning for his attendant, Diarmuidh, and 
gave him these orders: 'Let the sacred mysteries of 
the Eucharist be quickly prepared, for this is the 
natalis (birthday) of blessed Brendan.' ' Wherefore,' 
said the attendant, ' do you order such solemnities for 
the Mass to-day, as no messenger has come from 
Ireland with tidings of the death of that holy man?' 
' Go/ said Columba, * and do what I order, in accord- 
ance with the vision I have had ; last night I saw the 
heavens suddenly opening, and choirs of angels descend- 
ing to meet the soul of the blessed Brendan, and so 
great and incomparable was the brightness, that for a 
while it illumined all the world within my view. For 
then his soul was borne upwards by the ministry of 
the angels, in exultant procession, before the throne of 
the Divine Majesty, where it is now crowned with the 
brightest laurel-wreath of a glorious reward. '" 

After his saintly death his sacred remains, in com- 
pliance with his directions, were removed to Clonfert, 
and many precautions, such as our text describes, were 
necessary in order to avoid or disarm the opposition of 
the tribesmen round about Eanachduin to the removal 
of his body for interment elsewhere. These w r ere the 
Hy-Bruin-Seola, who, no doubt, loved and venerated 
him much after the many years of his holy lffe and 

* Cardinal Moron's Acta Sti. Brendan**, ^. \\ft. 

266 Brendaniana. 

labours amongst them, and who would, therefore, desire 
earnestly to secure his burial in their midst. They 
were also a sturdy and rather unmanageable race, 
of whom " the one-eyed soldier, Curryn," referred to in 
our text, was a fair specimen ; and within the year on 
which St. Brendan died, they provoked the wrath of 
King Aedh MacEochaidh, who " had given Eanachduin 
to God and Brendan," by some rebellious conduct, and 
on his going with a strong force to chastise them, they 
rose against him in full strength, and in a conflict that 
ensued, they slew him on the battle-field. It must 
have been, therefore, a service of some difficulty and 
danger to bear away the venerable remains of St. 
Brendan through their district to distant Clonfert for 
burial amongst another people ; but the saint's minute 
instructions to his loving sister, Bryg, were faith- 
fully carried out, and the humble waggon laden with 
Brendan's " goods and chattels " was suffered to pass 
on " to his own city of Clonfert," which was reached 
after a journey of three days. Here amidst the tribes- 
men of the Hy-Maine, there was no occasion for 
concealment, and " a great multitude of holy men 
assembled from all quarters" to do him honour; and 
we may well believe that the honours paid to him by 
prelates and clergy, and chieftians and people at 
Clonfert, were no less signal and prolonged than those 
accorded to St. Senan, on a like occasion, at Iniscathy, 
a few years before. The Life of this great saint tells 
us : " When the monks of Iniscathy, accompanied by 
Bishops Ere, Mola, and other prelates, brought the 
blessed remains of St. Senan from the nunnery where 
they first lay after his death, to his island monastery, it 
was unanimously resolved that the body of the saint 
would not be committed to the earth until all the 
prelates and clergy of the neighbouring; churches, the 

The Latin Life of St. Brendan. 267 

heads of religious houses, and the chiefs of the sur- 
rounding countries had assembled to celebrate the 
obsequies of the holy man, and for a whole week the 
days and nights were passed around his bier, in the 
chanting of sacred canticles, and in the performance of 
religious rites." 

No record remains to us of any such lengthened 
celebration before St. Brendan was interred " in the 
place of honour" at Clonfert; but the fact would serve 
to explain why the festival of the saint was set down in 
many later catalogues of Irish saints on May 26th — 
which may have been the day of his burial, ten days 
after his death, thus allowing three days for the journey 
from Eanachduin, and a full week for his obsequies at 
Clonfert, in " all glory and reverence," as our text 
has it. 

At last the great voyager and the greater apostolic 
missionary, "the tireless worker for God " by land and sea, 
St. Brendan, is laid to his eternal rest, beside his life- 
long friend and zealous co-operator, the abbot-bishop 
who ruled, as his vicar, over his church and school at 
Clonfert for many years, St. Moennean, who had died 
six -years before him, and his immediate successor, 
chosen by himself, St. Fintan Corach (" the chorister," 
so called because he was famed as a master of psalmody)# 
assumed the government of the house, and the custody 
of the venerable relics of his saintly predecessors. 
These were indeed a precious dowry, a rich inheritance 
for that church of Clonfert — the latest off-spring of 
Brendan's apostolic zeal, the spiritual child begotten in 
his old age, which therefore received a "Benjamin's 
portion " in those venerated relics, like the latest born 
of the patriarch of old. There is no reason to doubt 
that the possession of those relics enhanced the celebrity 
of that church, and increased ite &ftta&&\i\OT&to^ 

268 Brendaniana. 

to its sacred shrines, and for scholars to its famous 
schools during many centuries, and contributed, in no 
small degree, to make that " little oasis " amid the 
moory reaches along the banks of the Shannon, as 
Clonfert has been called, a centre of religious life, and a 
much -frequented home of learning for many generations. 
" Defunctus adhuc loquitur;" the venerable patriarch 
had passed to his rest — his relics were honoured by his 
devout votaries — but his spirit still lived and worked 
among his numerous spiritual children in the many 
religious foundations he had made ; and not only his 
spirit of exalted virtue and holy zeal survived amongst 
them, but also his " virtus'* his " miraculous powers," 
were still exercised for the edification and advantage of 
many of those who for long years honoured him as their 
glorious patron in heaven. It was the remarkable 
frequency of the display of this " virtus Brendani " in 
the miracles wrought through his intercession at 
Clonfert-Brendan, his latest spiritual child, and at 
Ardfert-Brendan, his earliest begotten — as well authen- 
ticated traditions testify* — that furnished the rationale 
of the names they bore and still bear in our Irish 
language ; for virtus Brendani became " firt or fert- 
Brenain" or later, " feart Brenain" in the mouths of 
the Irish children of St. Brendan.f 

* I can certify to the existence of such traditions among old people 
at Ardfert, regarding many extraordinary miracles said to have been 
wrought there in past times, through the intercession of our patron saint. 
We have, in the published MSS. of the great Franciscan, Father Luke 
Wadding, an account of what he calls the " latest miracle at Ardfert, 
which had the fame, as well as the name of miracles." He tells how 
some iconoclast soldiers, who garrisoned Ardfert Abbey under one of 
Queen Elizabeth's captains, in 1580, lost their lives in attempting to 
dislodge, from its pedestal on the t»able of the Abbey, a beautiful statue 
of the Blessed Virgin " through the miraculous power of St. Brendan." 

f See note, page 115, ante. 


The Latin Life of St Brendan. 269 

I have already applied to him the words of St. 
Bernard, uttered in praise of one of his saintly con- 
temporaries : " He was the parent of many thousand 
saints." These words were true of him during his life 
— they are more signally true of him and of his myriad 
spiritual children since his death, even in those three 
ancient dioceses that paid him special honour as their 
holy patron, Eanachduin (Annaghdown), Clonfert, and 
Ardfert-Brendan, for many centuries. As the learned 
Coadjutor Bishop of Clonfert has written * — and with 
his eloquent words I will conclude this portion of 
Brendaniana : — " St. Brendan has now many thousand 
spiritual children in Kerry and Galway who revere his 
memory as a precious inheritance and a bright example. 
The ancient cathedrals of Clonfert and Ardfert have 
been seized by the stranger, and are desolate or decay • 
ing. Inishgloria and Inisquin are waste and silent 
solitudes ; Annaghdown and Inish-da-druim are in ruins ; 
yet the tree of Christian faith and virtue, which Brendan 
planted, flourishes like the palm-tree by the waters, 
producing each year richer and more abundant fruits." 
Sic Jioreat et vigeat in perpetuum ! A men*] 

* Irish Schools and Scholar », \p4St < ^-» 


I. — The Legend of St. Brendan, the Young 
Harper, and the Angel. 

(From Book of Lisnwre.) 
Once when Brendan Mac Ua Alta was in Clonfert, on 
Easter-day, seven years before his death, he celebrated 
the Divine Office in the church/ preached, and said 
Mass. When midday came the monks proceed to their 
refection. There was a young cleric amongst them in 
the refectory, having his harp to play for them, and 
they gave him their blessing. 

" It would be sweet and pleasant to me now," said 
this cleric, " were Brendan here, that I might play three 
lively tunes for him." "He would not allow you 
approach him," say the monks, " for it is now seven 
years since Brendan made merry, or listened to any 
worldly music ; for he has two balls of wax, tied to- 
gether with a string, lying ready on his book ; and when 
he hears such music he puts the balls into his ears." 

" I will, however, go," says the young cleric, " to play 
for him." He goes off with his harp tuned. " Open," 
said the cleric. "Who is this ?" said Brendan. "A 
clerical student come to play the harp for thee." " Play 
outside the church," said Brendan. "If it be not 
disagreeable to thee, I would t\\&nk ft&& to\&\i\&& voto 

Legends of St. Brendan. 271 

the church to play for a while." Brendan then opens 
the door, and the cleric produces his harp ; whenBrendan 
at once places the two waxen balls in his ears. " I do 
not like/' said the student, " to make music for thee 
unless thou takest the wax out of thine ears." "It 
shall be done," said Brendan. Then he placed the balls 
on his book, and the student plays three lively strains 
for him. "A blessing on thee, student, with thy 
music," said Brendan, "and Heaven's melody for it 
hereafter !" 

Then Brendan puts the balls again into his ears, for 
he wished not to listen to any more music. "Why 
dost thou not listen to the music?" said the young 
cleric ; " is it because it seems bad to thee ? " " Not so," 
said Brendan ; "'but thus it happened, one day, just 
seven years ago, as I was in this church, after preaching 
here, and after Mass, all the clergy had gone to their 
refection. I was left here alone, and having made a 
visit to the Body of Christ, a great longing for my Lord 
seized me. As I remained here, a trembling and awe 
came upon me, and at the window I saw a radiant 
bird, which then perched on the altar. I could not look 
on it, because of the sunlike radiance around it. " A 
blessing on thee, and do thou bless us, cleric," said 
the bird. " May God bless thee/' said Brendan. " Who 
art thou?" "The Angel Michael," said the bird, 
" come to commune with thee." " We give thanks to 
God for this communing; and wherefore hast thou 
come ? " "To bless thee," said the bird, " and to make 
music for thee from thy Lord." " Great is thy welcome 
to me," said Brendan. " Then tiifc Vax& ^&ft&&Stat\* 

272 Brendaniana. 

beside its wing, and I remained listening to it from one 
canonical hour to another, and then it bade me fare well. 1 ' 
. Then Brendan places a stole on my neck, and asks 
me, " Is that melodious to thee, student ? " "I give 
my word, before God," said Brendan, " that after that 
melody, no melody of the world's music seems sweeter 
to me than the placing of this stole over thy neck, and 
little profit do I deem the hearing thereof. Take my 
blessing, student, and may Heaven be thine, because 
of thy music," said Brendan. 

[John O'Donovan refers to this interesting legend, 
in a note to his Four Masters, Anno 553 ; and he says 
that in O'Clery's Irish Calendar is told the story of 
the visit of St. Michael Archanget to St. Brendan, 
after Mass and sermon, in the Church of Clonfert, in 
the shape of a beautiful bird, who continued to sing 
heavenly music for him during twenty-four hours ; 
after which the saint could never enjoy, and never con- 
descended to listen to, any earthly music, except one 
Easter Sunday, when he permitted a student of his 
people to play for him on his harp. He endured his 
music with difficulty, and after a while giving his 
blessing, he put the balls of wax into his ears, which he 
always did wh^n he came within hearing of earthly 
music, thus shutting out all human melody, which was 
discord to him, and admitting only the harmonies of 

On this O'Donovan remarks that, if the story be not 
all pure fiction, "it might be inferred from it that 
St. Brendan had a most exquisite ear for music." 

Was it St. Brendan's "exquisite ear" and love of 
heavenly music that led him to select for his immediate 

Legends of St. Brendan. 273 

successor in the Church of Clonfert St. Fintan, sur- 
naiued Corach, or the Melodious, who was famed in his 
time as an excellent psalm-singer and choir master, as 
St. iEngus Cele-De tells us ? This St. Fintan was of 
the Corcaguiney race, and related to St. Brendan's 
mother, St. Cair, or Cara ; he may have been, in fact, 
the " young student " harper who was making his 
studies then in the school of Clonfert, and who, 
because he was of the saint's own " people " or family ; 
ventured to ask, and obtained, the privilege of playing 
to him on his harp, notwithstanding St. Brendan's 
known repugnance to such earthly strains. St. Fintan 
Corach survived St. Brendan about thirty years, and was 
succeeded in Clonfert by Senach Garbh and Colman 
son of Comgall, immediately, who were also very pro- 
bably of the same race, as St. Brendan, the founder of 
the church, according to the established rule by which 
the Comarb, or successor, was chosen from the kin or 
the tribe of the founder of the church or abbey, when a 
suitable subject thu^ qualified was available. This 
succession in Clonfert is thus given in the Feilire of 
St. iEngus : — 

" Fintan the Melodious, Senach the Rough, 
Colman, son of Comgall, the Guileless, 
Three great (spiritual) kings, with warfare of valour, 
One after the other in the Abbey of (Clonfert)." *] 

II.— The Legend of the Three Students who went 
on a Pilgrimage. 

(From Book of Lismore.) 
Three young clerics, of the men of Ireland, went on 
their pilgrimage, and fervently and heartily they went. 

* See Dr. Healy's Irish School* and Scholar*. 

274 Brendaniana. 

They took no provision with them to sea, only three 
cakes. "I will bring the little cat/ 1 says one of them. 

When they reached the main sea — "Let us," said 
they, " in Christ's name, cast away oar oars into the 
sea, and throw ourselves on the mercy of our Lord." 
This was done. 

Not long afterwards they arrived, under Christ's pro- 
tection, at a beautiful island, where there was abundance 
of firewood and water. " Let us," said they, " build a 
church in the midst of our island ;" and they built one. 
The little cat goes away from them, and brings back a 
real salmon, and thus procures three salmon every 
twenty-four hours for them. " Oh ! God," said they, 
"our pilgrimage is now no pilgrimage at all after this 
fashion, for we have brought abundant provisions in 
bringing our little cat to feed us, and it is sad to eat of 
his fishing. We will not, therefore, partake of the cat's 
providing." Wherefore they remained twenty-four hours 
without food, until there came a message from Christ 
that there was on the altar half a wheaten cake and a 
piece of fish for each man. "Well then," said they, 
" let each of us announce his work for Him who sends 
this food." 

" I will sing, first," says one of them, " the thrice 
fifty psalms every day together with the canonical office 
and mass." 

" I will sing," says another, "the thrice fifty long 
prayers with the canonical hours and mass every day." 

" I will sing," said the third, " thrice fifty Hymnttm 
dicats 9 every day, with celebrating canonical hours and 

* St. Hilary's hymn in ^rataa ol Ctastefc,. 

Legends of St Brendan. 275 

This is practised for a long space of time, and at 
length one of the students died. His requiem was 
sung by the others, and he was buried. The survivors 
divide between them the duty-prayers of their deceased 
comrade, who had the thrice fifty psalms, and say them 
every day. 

Soon after another died, and was buried by his 
comrade, who took upon himself all the duty-prayers of 
the deceased, which was a heavy burthen upon him the 
sole survivor. 

Under this he murmured. " Of a truth," says he, 
"their Lord hath a greater love for the two deceased 
than He hath for me. He has taken them unto Himself, 
and He hath left me here." 

An angel visits him. " Thy Lord is angry with 
thee," saith the angel, " because of thy murmuring ; 
for thou wilt not be without mercy from Him." " Why 
then/' said he, " does He not suffer me to "die like my 
comrades ? " " The choice was thine," saith the angel, 
" when you divided the duty-prayers between you 
three ; the man who chose the thrice fifty psalms was 
to have a short life here, and was taken first ; the man 
who chose the thrice fifty prayers neither adds to or 
takes from his life here ; but for you who chose the 
thrice fifty Hymnum dicats, there is long life here and 
the kingdom of heaven hereafter." 

" A blessing on the Lord from whom thou hast come. 
I am very thankful to Him." 

So he dwelt on his island till he was aged and 
withered, and till Brendan came from the sea to him ; 
and Brendan blessed him, and gave Uim tl\fe "V \%k\<sssaL 

276 Brendaniana. 

and all the sacraments, and so he went to heaven. And 
a watch of angels is always oyer their resting-place in 
the island. 

[The Irish text of this ancient legend is given by 
Dr. Whitley Stokes, in his Preface to his Lives of 
Saints from tlie Book of Lis7)iore, with an English 
translation ; and he tells us " that the legend is also 
found in the Book of Leinster, whence it has been 
published, with a French translation and notes, by 
M. Henri Gaidoz, in Melusine. The language of the 
Irish text seems very archaic and difficult to trans- 
late, perhaps even more so than that of the very 
analogous legend that we find in the Irish version of 
the voyage of Brendan, as given in the " Betha 
Brenainn" Book of Lismore. This legend tells that 
when St. Brendan, towards the close of his seven years' 
quest of the " Land of Promise of the Saints/' was 
approaching a small, delightful, beautiful island, where 
there was abundance of excellent fish, and wherein 
there was " a church built of stone, and a penitent 
white-faced old man praying therein ;" his vessel was 
pursued by a monstrous sea cat, which swam after it 
from this island, and threatened to devour the saint 
and his companions. They all prayed to the Lord 
earnestly for deliverance, and suddenly there arose 
from the depths of the sea " a huge sea- whale, between 
them and the monstrous sea-cat/ ' Between those a 
fierce combat ensued, till each of them drowned the 
other, and neither was seen any more. Then Brendan 
and his people render thanks to God, and, returning to 
the island, are welcomed joyously by the venerable old 
man, who salutes them in a poem' of six quatrains, 
given in the Irish text, but which Dr. W. Stokes does 


Legends of St Brendan. 277 

not translate into English, awaiting, as he says, a second 
copy yet to be found. 

He tells them that " he was of the men of Ireland, 
and that there were twelve of them who went on their 
pilgrimage, bringing with them this sea-cat, like a little 
bird, that was very dear to them. Afterwards it grew 
greatly in size, but never did hurt to any of them. 
Eleven of those who came on their pilgrimage hither 
are now dead, and I am here alone, entreating thee to 
administer unto me Christ's Body and His Blood, that 
I may then depart to heaven." Then he reveals to 
St. Brendan the land he was seeking, even the Land of 
Promise, and, having received the Holy Viaticum, died, 
and was buried on the island, along with his brethren, 
" with honour, and great reverence, and with psalms 
and hymns, in the name of the Father, and the Son, 
and the Holy Ghost." 

Such is the form of the legend in the Betha Brenainn, 
and it seems to have grown out of that of the " Three 
Students," who brought their " little cat " with them on 
their pilgrimage, which was so expert in catching 
salmon for them. In the later form this " little cat '* 
becomes the monster sea-cat, " like a young ox or a 
three-year-old horse, overgrown by feeding on the fish 
of the sea and the island ;" and the three pilgrims are 
increased to twelve, of whom the survivor greets 
St. Brendan and his people. 

This later version must have been current and 
popular in Ireland before the close of the eighth century, 
for in the litanies of, St. Aengus Cele-De, which are 
believed to have been composed before 790, there, is an 
invocation of the twelve pilgrims referred to in this 
legend : — 

u In da ailither dec, dia n-airnaich Brenaiiid* m ow>. 
fer in-innis in caitt l ni-bethu, Jtos omnes wooco? vj v *E&» 

278 Brendaniana. 

twelve pilgrims, of whom Brendan found the sole 
survivor in the Island of the Cat — all these I invoke.") 
In those litanies of St. Aengus there is another 
invocation, which would indicate that some version of 
the voyage of St. Brendan, similar to that we have ill 
the Book of Lismore, if not. absolutely the same, was 
well known to the faithful in Ireland at the time 
St. Aengus composed those litanies for their devout use. 
The saint invokes: — "In t-ancara for rainic Brenain 
aracind I tir tliarnglre; ciisna h'uili noemaib torcratar 
in huibh insib bid ociain — hos omnes invoco." (" The 
anchorite whom Brendan met in the Land of Promise, 
with all the saints who perished in the Isles of the 
Ocean — all these I invoke."] 

III. — The Holy Well of Brendan's Anointing. 

(From Local Tradition in the Island of Valentia.) 
One day, when St. Brendan was sailing in his currach 
(coracle) from one of his oratories on the Blasquet 
Islands, across Dingle Bay, to visit the little monastery 
of St. Beoanigh at the Glen, in the parish of Killemlagh, 
barony of Iveragh, he was suddenly hailed, as he drew 
near the northern coast of Ilaun Dairbhre, or Valentia 
Island, by a man standing on one of the headlands^ 
there, who made signals to him to come on shore with- 
out delay. The saint at once turned his little boat 
towards the land, and put into a narrow creek, where he 
found a landing-place like that he came to on the first 
island he reached on his great * " Voyage," " where the 
rocks stood on every side, of wonderful steepness, like a 

* Supra, page Vl\. 

Legends of St. Brendan. 279 

wall." Here he drew up his boat, and ascended the 
frowning cliff by means of steps, which are to this day 
as firmly and safely set on the face of it, as if carved 
out by the hand of man. Having learned from the 
stranger that there were two persons, lying at the point 
of death, some distance inland, who had not received 
the last Sacraments, he followed his guide, who 
led him into the thick of a forest — which is now-a- 
days an extensive bog, called Emlagh, in the town- 
land of Coorha-beg, and here he discovered two 
men who were dying, and who had earnestly desired 
and prayed to die in the Christian faith, but who 
had not been baptized, nor received any religious 
instruction for want of opportunity. The strange 
guide then disappeared, and St. Brendan having 
instructed the dying men, administered to them the 
Sacraments of Baptism and Extreme Unction, and in 
a short time afterwards they died holy and happy 
deaths. They were buried where they died, and two 
pillar-stones, which must have been brought from afar, 
mark the spot where they were laid at rest. The well 
from which the saint had procured the water for their 
baptism, and which flows near the place of their burial, 
is known and recognised as a holy well, still called 
by Irish-speaking people — Tobar olla Brenainn (the 
Well of St. Brendan's Anointing). It is much 
frequented by pious pilgrims, who perform certain 
devotions there, and many miraculous cures are 
popularly believed to have been granted to such devo- 
tions. The " round," as the devout practice is called, 
consists in repeating certain prayer, ^ciew %£yh$> ^ssqs} 

280 Brendaniana. 

by four large stones, sunk in the earth, in the form of a 
cross ; and it appears that each of those stones is a rude 
cross of a very ancient type, which is partially covered 
by the boggy soil. 

The little creek, near the present Colloo Head, by 
which St. Brendan landed on the island, received from 
him a special blessing on the occasion, as the tradition 
tells, so that ever after it abounded in shoals of excel- 
lent fish, and became the favourite fishing-ground of 
the islanders, until, within the memory of some now 
living in the neighbourhood, the great supply of fish 
there proved for many too strong a temptation to 
profaije the Lord's day, and led Jo Sabbath-breaking 
and neglect of Mass by the fishermen, which brought 
on the waters of the creek the curse of barrenness, 
which clings to them at the present day. 

[The present Parish Priest of Yalentia, from whom I 
received this interesting tradition, informs me that he 
had heard a different account of how St. Brendan was 
summoned by his mysterious guide to administer the 
Sacraments at this holy well; but the version given 
above seems to have been more generally current in the 
locality. The existence of other forms of the tradition 
would show that it was an ancient one, and had come 
down through various and independent channels. The 
remains of " the little monastery of St. Beoanigh," 
which St. Brendan is said to have been visiting on this 
occasion, still exist in the Glen, but in the last stage of 
ruin and desolation. It had been a very interesting 
specimen of the earliest of our Irish monastic establish- 
ments of which we have any remains now existing- 

Legends of St Brendan. 281 

When I saw the place nearly forty years ago, the ruins 
of nine bee-hive cells could be traced, clustered around 
what had been a larger building in the centre, probably 
the oratory, of which only a small portion of a side-wall 
was visible. Enclosing the whole, which covered about 
a quarter of an acre of land, were the remains of a rudely- 
built cashel, or stone fence, which had been in many 
places levelled with the ground. BesicV, the enclosure 
there gushes forth from the living rock of the mountain, 
that here rises abruptly over the site, a copious stream 
of limpid water, which is called St. Beoanigh's Well,* 
and all around for some distance are traces of ancient 
graves and burial cists, with a few pillar-stones still 
erect beside them, within which, no doubt, many of the 
early monks who worked and prayed in those dismantled 
cells and oratories were laid at rest, and where also the 
forefathers of many a neighbouring hamlet sleep their 
last sleep. The place is known as Killabeonigh (church 
or cell of St. Beoanigh), and gives its name to a large 
townland which comprises nearly the tfhole of the 
" Glen " within which lay the ancient monastery. This 
Glen, so called par excellence, consists of a cluster of 
mountain valleys, radiating towards the north and west 
from the shore of St. Finan's Bay, on the south, and 
shut in and sheltered by lofty hills that rise precipi- 
tously over them ; and in these vallies can still be traced 
unmistakable vestiges of very early as well as later 
Christian settlements within them. Not far from the 
venerable monastic laura at Kilabeonigh there are 
remains of an oratory of the earliest type, which is very 
much dilapidated ; and in one of the valleys trending to 
the north-west, called Coom-anaspuig (mountain-valley 
of the bishop), there stands an ancient oratory, one of 

* This well is marked on Ordnance Survey Maps, but not t%& wtfstfe\& 

282 Brendaniana. 

the finest and most perfect of its kind that remains in 
Kerry, being somewhat larger than the remarkable one 
at Gallerus, barony of Corcaguiney, perhaps better 
finished, and very well preserved. On the eastern side 
of the Glen we find the ruins of two mediaeval parochial 
churches, one of them some centuries older than the 
other, and of a better style of masonry, but neither 
showing any architectural features worthy of note. 
The existence of those monastic and ecclesiastical 
remains within the ambit of the Glen, plainly indicates 
that the place had been a centre of religious life and 
light from the earliest ages of the faith in Kerry ; and 
surely the situation was well chosen for such a purpose, 
by the pioneers of the primeval religious foundations 
there, for it would be difficult to find anywhere in Ireland 
a more secure retreat from the outer world, or a dwell- 
ing of more sunny aspect or more charming prospect 
towards the sea, than is to be found in the bosom of 
this beautiful Glen of Iveragh. From every side can be 
seen the bold and picturesque cliffs and headlands that 
surround St. Finan's Bay, on the east and on the west ; 
while not far out in the offing, fully in view, tower up 
grandly the Greater and Lesser Skelligs, like two 
mighty ships sailing along majestically, " with every 
shred of canvas set," towards which the favourite port 
of departure, as well as the landing-place on return, for 
all pilgrim visitors, from time immemorial, was the 
caladh, or the narrow creek that runs from St. Finan's 
Bay into the centre of the Glen. 

The earliest religious foundation there was apparently 
the little monastery of St. Beoanigh, and, judging from 
its present remains, we can scarcely entertain a doubt 
that this was founded, and the group of humble cells 
and the rudely-built oratory were erected about the 
time of St. Brendan, hy ttt. "Eteouigja^ one of his 

Legends of St. Brendan. 283 

disciples, and probably the same saint whose name we 
find as " Beoanus " in the Latin Lives of St. Fursey, 
in connection with the wonderful visions of that 
renowned saint. The founder of Killabeoanigh had very 
probably come from one of St. Brendan's West Kerry 
monasteries, and having, like his great patriarch, as the 
Valentia tradition relates, " crossed Dingle Bay in his 
currach" with some of his brother monks, in quest 
of a suitable place for a new foundation, amidst the 
hills of Iveragh, and having rounded Bray Head and 
Canduff on that coast, came within view of the Glen, 
and chose within its bosom the delightful situation for 
the little monastery with which his name is associated. 
If this conjecture regarding the founder of Killa- 
beoanigh be well grounded, as I believe it is, it would 
explain the kindly interest shown by St. Brendan in his 
visits, of which tradition tells, to the new foundation 
of his spiritual children there; and it would serve to 
identify St. Beoanigh of the Glen with the St. Beoanus 
of the "Visions of St. Fursey," and to throw some 
light on obscure passages in the early Life of the latter 
saint. As I have stated in a previous page, St. Fursey 
was born in a.d. 570, a few years before the death of 
St. Brendan, near the island-monastery of Inisquin, 
whither his father, Fintan, the West Kerry prince, had 
fled for protection to that saint, who is said to have 
been his uncle, from the vengeance of Aedh Find, 
King of North Connaught, after his secret marriage with 
his daughter, the beautiful Gelgeis. Soon after, through 
the good offices of St. Brendau, the offended father 
forgave the refugees, and Fintan and his wife took 
up their residence on the adjoining miinland at 
a place called Ard-Fintan to the present day, where 
other children were born to them, amoii£ wkovs^ 
were probably Ultan and FoiYmv, Vtafe ^Ivc&Vj XstgRfessst 

284 Brendaniana. 

of St, Fursey and his companions in many of his 
apostolic missions in his latter life. Here, in the course 
of some years, news was brought to Fintan, that his 
father, Finlogh, who was king in West Kerry, had died, 
and that the chiefs of the tribe had elected him to 
succeed his royal father. He therefore returned to his 
native district, bringing his children, Fursey and the 
others, with him, and resided in the royal mansion, 
one of those great catlmin, in Corcaguiney, some of 
which are grand and imposing even in their ruins at 
the present day. Here he sought out the holiest and 
most learned teachers for his children, and got them 
educated in religious knowledge and trained to piety 
by some bishops who dwelt within his territory.* 
Under those instructors, Fursey soon made great pro- 
gress in learning and piety, but when he reached a 
mature age, he desired to devote himself entirely to the 
study of the Holy Scriptures and to the practice of 
Christian perfection ; and for this purpose " he left his 
country and the home of his parents," as his old Life 
relates, "and repaired to a distant part of Ireland;" 
probably the monastery of Inisquin, where St. Meldan, 
the friend of his childhood, was abbot. Alter some 
years devoted here to study and to the discipline of the 
religious life, he founded a monastery on the adjacent 
mainland, at a place then called RathmuigJie, but 
afterwards known as Kilursa (Church of Fursey), which 
gives name to a large parish on the borders of Lough 
Corrib. To provide suitable subjects for his new 
monastery, he resolved to return to the country of his 
parents, West Kerry, in order to invite and induce some 
of his relatives and friends there, of whose virtues and 

* See Dr. Lanigan's Ecclesiastical History, vol. ii., chap, xvi., pp. 

Legends of St. Brendan. 285 

fitness for the monastic state he had previous cogni- 
zance, to join his new community. When on this 
mission, he had arrived near the mansion of his father, 
he was seized with a sudden illness of an extraordinary 
nature, and having been conveyed unconscious to a 
house beside the way, he lay for several hours, it was 
supposed, at the point of death. It was during this 
seizure, and the recurrence of the same afterwards, 
that he had those wonderful visions that have made 
his name so famous, and the detailed accounts of which, 
furnished by himself at various times and to different 
persons during his after life, were written down at 
some length before the time of Venerable Bede, for 
he refers to them with respect in his Ecclesiastical 
History, and became so celebrated and universally 
known in mediaeval Europe, that it is said they furnished 
Dante with the ideas of the future state and the plan 
and scenes of his sublime poem, the Divina Commedia. 
In one of those visions, he saw, after a variety of 
most wonderful spiritual manifestations, *the Bishops 
Beoanus and Meldanus, who are said to have been then 
dead, issuing from the inner courts of heaven, in the 
guise of angels of dazzling brightness ; and he heard 
them addressing to him lengthened instructions replete 
with heavenly wisdom, which are given in some detail 
in the written accounts of the visions.* In those 
accounts the chief part of such discourses is attributed 
to St. Beoanus, regarding whom Dr. Lanigan says he 
can find nothing certain, but that his repute for sanctity 
was [equally great with that of St. Meldan; and he 
supposes that he belonged to some part of Connaught, 
though the particular place he does not know. 

* An interesting account of those visions is given by Canon O'Hanlon, 
in his Life of St. Fursey, Jan. 16.— Xires 0/ Irish SaVnti^tXA. 

286 Brendaniana. 

I have given here what Dr. Lanigan claims to be 
" the most correct account of St. Fursey's younger 
days that he was able to collect from the old Acts of 
his life ;" and though it has occupied more space than 
perhaps ought to have been devoted to it in a volume 
of Brendaniana, my readers will, I hope, excuse the 
trespass, because of the interesting information it 
supplies or suggests regarding the relations of so 
renowned a saint with the holy men of his time in 
West Kerry. We learn from it that certain bishops 
took part in his education there from his youth to early 
manhood, and it clearly implies that those bishops were 
residents in the district. Who were the bishops who 
thus instructed and trained to holiness the youthful 
Fursey ? I "think, without doing violence to the pro- 
babilities of the case, I may state that St. Beoanigb 
of the Glen was one of them. This saint, I believe, 
founded his monastery there about a.d. 560, when he 
was perhaps thirty years of age, and received soon after 
the paternal visit from St. Brendan of which the 
Valentia tradition speaks. Here he remained for some 
years, until he had placed the new establishment on a 
solid basis, and grounded its community in religious 
discipline. Then he may have returned to his old 
monastic home beside Brandon Hill, some time after 
the death of hjs holy patriarch, St. Brendan, in 577, 
and .there received episcopal consecration, probably 
from Bishop Cuan or Mochua,* the founder of ancient 
Kilquane (Church of Cuan) in that district, who resided 
not far from that church at the episcopal seat of 

* If the founder of this Kilquane were the founder of another 

Kilquane, in the parish of Ballymacelligott, as I believe he was, he was 

certainly a bishop, for the latter church was named, on the map of the 

Desmond confiscations accurately made in a.d. 1587 — Kileaspttig- Groin, 

the Ohurch of Bishop Cron, or Cronairoa, a \?fcUAs\own alias of Cuan or 


Legends of St. Brendan. 287 

Catliair-easpuig (Bishop's Fort), where the name 
survives, and the ruins of the ancient cathair are to be 
seen at the present day. 

About this time Fintan had come with his family 
from the shores of Lough Corrib, to assume regal sway 
in West Kerry in succession to his deceased father, and 
soon after placed his first-born son, Fursey, under the 
care of the local bishops, whom I believe to have been 
no other than the Bishops Cuan and Beoanigh, " to be 
well educated and instructed in religious matters/' 
Under the tutelage of those holy men the saintly youth 
remained for some years, until in early manhood he 
departed, as stated above, "from his country and his 
parents," probably about 592. 

We are not to suppose that St. Beoanigh had forgotten 
or lost sight of his spiritual children in the Glen all this 
time, and we may well believe that he occasionally 
" crossed Dingle Bay in his currach ,, to visit them, 
especially after his consecration as bishop, and to 
perform all episcopal functions they may require. 
When he had advanced in age, those sea journeys were 
scarcely possible, and then he took up his residence 
permanently at Coomaneaspuig (Bishop's Mountain 
Valley), within the Glen, where his loving sons of the 
monastery built for his use the beautiful oratory, 
worthy of a bishop, that stands there still in marvellous 
preservation. Here he lived and labouied for God's 
glory and the sanctification of souls during many years, 
until at a venerable old age he died in the odour of 
sanctity, and was buried amid the tears and prayers of 
his spiritual children, at Killabeoanigh, within its little 
oratory, where his relics were enshrined, and whither 
numerous pilgrims have resorted from generation to 
generation, even to the present day, to Wcvoxxt \a»> 
memory and to seek his intercession. 

288 Brendaniana. 

The death of St. Beoanigh most probably took place 
some years before the date generally assigned to the 
occurrence of St. Fursey's ecstatic seizures, during 
which he had those wonderful visions ; that is, about 
a.d. 620. We may, therefore, believe that when the 
saint saw in ecstacy the glorified spirits of Bishops 
Beoanigh and Meldanus in angelic brightness, he had 
really before his mind's eye the saintly instructors of 
his youth and early manhood, St. Beoanigh of the Glen 
and St. Meldan of Inisquin, and that the wise and 
weighty lessons he had received from those holy 
teachers for many years, lived again in his memory so 
vividly during his illness, that he was able to recall and 
repeat them at great length after his recovery. He 
loved those saintly men during life, and he revered their 
memories after death so much that, when in after years 
he was leaving Ireland for his apostolic missions in 
England and France, he lovingly bore away with him, 
as his Life relates, relics of those saints, and preserved 
them in special veneration until his death. 

The mission of St. Fursey to West Kerry, in quest of 
eligible subjects for his new monastery, was, no doubt, 
eminently successful; for, as he knew well from his early 
experiences there, the district was indeed a very fruitful 
field for such a harvest as he sought to garner within 
it, and had been blessed with a spiritual fecundity that 
bloomed beauteously in a profusion of the flowers and 
fruits of the religious life. The good seed that 
St. Brendan had sown amid the hills and vallies that 
cluster around the holy mountain that bears his name, 
had, in truth, fallen upon excellent soil, and " had 
brought forth fruit one hundred-fold; " so that even in 
the lifetime of the saint, and soon after his death, that 
country of West Corcaguiney became the home of 
multitudes of holy men and Yjomex^ ^fc&, «fero& the 


Legends of St. Brendan. 289 

time of the visit of St. Fursey, were in the first fervour 
of their faith and love of God. The fame of this 
religious fervour spread abroad, even unto the most 
distant parts of Ireland, and attracted to the district 
devout pilgrims from various directions, who resorted 
to it as " the refuge of the penitent or the school of the 
saint." Among those pilgrims, one of the most 
illustrious was Melchedair MacKonan, ihe grandson of 
the King of Uladh (now county Antrim), who came 
from the remotest north of Ireland to dwell among the 
saints of West Kerry, as the ancient chronicler * has it : 
'• forbru an mara t fri cnoic mBrenain aniar " (on the 
brink of the sea near Brandon Hill on the west). Here 
this holy man lived and laboured in God's service for 
many years, until his saintly death, of which we have 
record in the Martyrology of Donegal, on May 14th, 
A.D. 636 ; and local tradition loves to tell how he drew 
many souls to Christ, and baptized his converts in the 
holy well beside the ancient oratory, still known as Log 
Melchedair (the pool of Melchedair), and how, when he 
had completed his beautiful oratory there, now, alas ! 
in ruins, not far from the interesting remains of the fine 
Hiberno-Komanesque church, built many centuries 
later, he would invoke the special blessing of St. Brendan 
upon the work, by marshalling a grand procession of all 
the saints within the district in a solemn pilgrimage to 
the oratory on Brandon Hill, there to celebrate a High 
Mass of thanksgiving in honour of the glorious patriarch, 
who had reached his heavenly crown many years before. 
The assembly of the saints was so numerous that they 
were able to realize the words of the prophet ; f for, in 
their grand procession, " a path and a way was there, 
and it was called the holy way;" and this way, for 

* In the Book of Bally mote, \ \«a&&& -xxxn . 

290 Brendaniana. 

the seven miles of the pilgrimage from the oratory of 
St. Melchedair to St. Brendan's oratory, on Brandon- 
Hill, is still well defined and known as the "Pathway 
of the Saints." The story I have related in a previous 
page (supra, p. 78) relying on local tradition, about the 
extraordinary length of this procession, will not be 
considered an extravagant improbability, when we are 
reminded of the multiplicity of the early Christian 
remains of various religious foundations that still exist 
in that district. A gentleman,* who knew the locality 
well, and took an enlightened interest in its archaeology, 
made out about fifty years ago a list of what he called 
" the principal remains of antiquity " within its borders, 
and he challenged any district of its extent in Ireland 
to show "so many and such " a variety of ancient 
remains, and in such a fine state of preservation as are 
to be found there." I need not give the whole list, as 
he made it out, but I may mention some of the early 
Christian remains : twenty-one churches in ruins, and 
nine church sites ; fifteen oratories ; nine penitential 
stations; forty calluraghs (" calvaries," early Christian 
cemeteries); two hundred and eighteen cloghauns, or 
bee-hive cells and houses ; twelve large stone crosses ; 
fifty-four monumental pillars, most of them bearing 
Ogham inscriptions; and sixty-six holy wells, many of 
them bearing the name of a saint. Besides these, 
which existed fifty years ago, how many fine relics of 
the faith and piety of the early Christian population 
there must have perished utterly during the many 
centuries that have since elapsed. 

It is, therefore, no exaggeration to state that soon 
after St. Brendan's time this whole district, the field of 

* Mr. E. Hitchcock, in a paper in Kilkenny Archaeological Journal, 
vol. L 

Legends of St. Brendan. 291 

his earliest missionary labours, and the scene of some 
of his first monastic foundations, was in truth a " land 
of saints ;" a veritable Thebaid amid the hills of West 
Kerry, to which may be well applied the praises 
bestowed by St. Athanasius, in his Life of St. Anthony, 
on the Thebaid of Egypt, during the lifetime of that 
saint : — "Among the mountains there were monasteries, 
as if tabernacles, filled with divine choirs, singing, 
studying, fasting, praying, exulting in the hope of 
things to come, and working for alms-deeds, having 
love and harmony one towards another. And truly, it 
was given one there to see a peculiar country of piety 
and righteousness ; a multitude of ascetics, whose one 
feeling was towards holiness. So that a stranger, seeing 
those monasteries and their order, would be led to cry 
out : * How beauteous are thy homes, O Jacob, and thy 
tabernacles, Israel; as shady groves, as a garden on 
a river, as tents which the Lord has pitched, and as 
cedars by the waters.' " — § 44.] 

IV. — The Island of St. Brendan. 

(Abridged from Washington Irving } s " Columbus. 99 ) 

One of the most singular geographical illusions on 
record is that which, for a long while, haunted the 
imaginations of the inhabitants of the Canaries. They 
fancied they beheld a mountainous island, of about 
ninety leagues in length, lying far to the Westward. It 
was only seen at intervals, though in perfectly clear 
and serene weather. To some it seemed one hundred 
leagues distant, to others forty, to others only fifteen 
or eighteen. 
On attempting to reach it,\iOTOraet,\\» wcasSasssa <st> 

292 Brendaniana. 

other eluded the search, and was nowhere to be found. 
Still there were so many persons of credibility who 
concurred in testifying to their having seen it, and the 
testimony of the inhabitants of different islands agreed 
so well as to its form and position, that its existence 
was generally believed ; and geographers inserted it in 
their maps. It is laid down on the globe of Martin 
Behem, projected in 1492, as delineated by M. De Murr, 
and it will be found in most of the maps of the time of 
Columbus, placed commonly about 200 leagues west of 
the Canaries. During the time that Columbus was 
making his proposition to the court of Portugal, an 
inhabitant of. the Canaries applied to King John II. for 
a vessel to go in search of the island. The name of 
St. Brendan was from time immemorial given to this 
imaginary island, for when the rumour circulated of 
such a place being seen from the Canaries, which always 
eluded the search, the legends of St. Brendan were 
revived, and applied to this unapproachable land. Some 
have maintained that it was known to the ancients, 
and was the same mentioned by Ptolemy among the 
Fortunate or Canary Islands, by the name of Aprositus, 
a Greek word signifying inaccessible; and which, 
according to Friar Diego Philippo, in his book on the 
Incarnation of Christ, shows that it possessed the same 
quality in ancient times of deluding the eye, and of 
being unattainable to the feet of mortals. But what- 
ever belief the ancients may have had on the subject, 
it is certain that it took a strong hold on the faith of 
the moderns, during the prevalent rage for discovery, 
long after the time of Columbus. 


Legends of St Brendan. 293 

It was repeatedly seen, and by various persons at a 
time, always in the same place and in the same form. 
In 1526, an expedition set off from the Canaries in 
quest of it, commanded by Fernando de Troya and 
Fernando Alvares. They cruised in the wonted direc- 
tion, but in vain ; and their failure ought to have 
undeceived the public. " The phantasm of the island, 
however," says Viera, " had such a secret enchantment 
for all who beheld it, that the public preferred doubting 
the good conduct of the explorers rather than their own 
senses." In 1570 the appearances were so repeated 
and clear, that there was an universal fever of curiosity 
awakened among the people of the Canaries, and it was 
determined to send forth another expedition. That 
they might not appear to act upon light grounds, an 
exact investigation was previously made of all the 
persons of talent and credibility who had seen those 
apparitions of land, or who had other -proofs of its 

Alonzo de Espinosa, governor of the island of Ferro, 
accordingly made a report, in which more than one 
hundred witnesses, several of them persons of the 
highest respectability, deposed that they had beheld 
the unknown island about forty leagues to the north- 
west of Ferro ; that they had contemplated it with 
calmness and certainty, and had seen the sun set 
behind one of its points. Testimonials of still greater 
force came from the islands of Palma and Teneriffe. 
There were certain Portuguese who affirmed that, being 
driven about by a tempest, they had come upon the 
island of St. Brendan. Pedro Velio, ^\tf* ^**& *C&fc> 

294 Brendaniana. 

pilot of the vessel, asserted that, having anchored in a 
bay, he landed with several of the crew. They drank 
fresh water in a brook, and beheld in the sand the print 
of footsteps, double the size of those of an ordinary 
man, and the distance between them was in proportion. 
Having seen much cattle and sheep grazing in the 
neighbourhood, two of their party, armed with lances, 
. -went into the woods in pursuit of them. The night 
was approaching, the heavens began to lour, and a 
harsh wind arose. The people on board the ship cried 
out that she was dragging her anchor, whereupon 
Velio entered the boat and hurried on board. In an 
instant they lost sight of land, being, as it were, swept 
away in the hurricane. When the storm had passed 
away, and the sea and the sky were again serene, they 
searched in vain for the island ; not a trace of it was 
to be seen, and they had to pursue their voyage, 
lamenting the loss of their two companions who had 
been abandoned in the wood. 

A learned licentiate, Pedro Ortiz de Funez, Inquisitor 
of the Grand Canary, while on a visit at Teneriffe, 
summoned several persons before him, who testified 
having seen the island. Among them was one Marcos 
Verde, a man well known in those parts. He stated 
that, in returning from Barbary, and arriving in the 
neighbourhood of the Canaries, he beheld land which, 
according to his maps and calculations, could not be 
any of the known islands. He concluded it to be the 
far-famed St Brendan, Overjoyed at having discovered 
this land of mystery, he coasted along its spell-bound 
shores until he anchored in a beautiful harbour formed 

Legends of St Brendan. 295 

by the mouth of a mountain ravine. Here he landed 
with several of his crew. " It was now," he said, " the 
hour of the Ave-Maria, or of vespers ; the sun being 
set, the shadows began to spread over the land. The 
navigators having separated, wandered about in different 
directions, until out of hearing of each other's shouts. 
Those on board, seeing the night approaching, made 
signals to summon back the wanderers to the ship. , 
They reimbarked, intending to resume their investiga- 
tions on the following day. Scarcely were they on 
board, however, when a whirlwind came rushing down 
the ravine with such violence as to drag the vessel from 
her anchor and hurry her out to sea ; and they never 
saw anything more of this hidden and inhospitable 

The mass of testimony collected by official authority, 
in 1570, seemed so satisfactory, that another expedition 
was fitted out in the ( ;-ame year in the island of Palma ; 
but it was equally fruitless with the preceding, St. 
Brendan seeming disposed only to tantalize the world 
with distant and serene glimpses of his ideal paradise, 
or to reveal it amidst storms to tempest-tost mariners ; 
but to hide it from all who diligently sought it. Still 
the people of Palma adhered to their favourite chimera. 
Thirty-four years afterwards, in 1605, they sent another 
ship on the quest, commanded by an accomplished 
pilot, accompanied by the Padre Lorenzo Pinedo, 
a holy Franciscan friar, skilled in natural science. 
St. Brendan, however, refused to reveal his island 
to either monk or mariner. 

Upwards of a century now elapsed withoxA *xsj xsk^ 

296 Brendaniaria. 

attempt to seek the fairy island. At length, in 1721, 
the public infatuation again rose to such a height, that 
another expedition was sent, commanded by Don 
Gaspar Domingues, a man of probity and talent. As 
this was an expedition of solemn and mysterious import, 
he had two holy friars as apostolic chaplains. They 
made sail from the island of Teneriffe towards the end 
of October, leaving the populace in an indescribable state 
of anxious curiosity. The ship, however, returned from 
its cruise as unsuccessful as all its predecessors. 

Such are the principal facts existing relative to the 
island of St. Brendan. Its reality was for a long time 
a matter of firm belief. It was in vain that repeated 
voyages and investigations proved its non-existence : 
the public, after trying all lands of sophistry, took 
refuge in the supernatural to defend their favourite 
chimera. They maintained that it was rendered 
inaccessible to mortals by divine providence, and they 
indulged in all kinds of extravagant fancies concerning 
it. Some confounded it with the fabled island of the 
Seven Cities,* where, in old times, seven bishops and 
their followers had taken refuge from the Moors ; some 

* Washington Irving, in his Chronicles of Wolfert's Roost and other 
Papers, gives a Portuguese legend of this " Island of the Seven Cities," 
in which he charmingly tells how " Don Fernando de Alma, a young 
cavalier of high standing at the Portuguese Court, " fitted out, sometime 
in the fifteenth century, long before Columbus crossed the ocean, an 
expedition "to sail in quest of the sainted island," furnished with a 
special commission from the king, "constituting him governor of any 
country he might discover." The "young cavalier" discovered the 
island in due course, and the story rolates his wonderful adventures 
therein, and his more wonderful departure therefrom ; but the tale is too 
long for insertion here, especially as it bears a strong family likeness to 
the stories of the expeditions to the " Island of St. Brendan " told in the 

Legends of St Brendan. 297 

of the Portuguese imagined it to be the abode of their 
lost king Sebastian ; while the Spaniards pretended that 
Koderic, the last of their Gothic kings, had fled thither 
from the Moors after the disastrous battle of the 
Guadelete. Others suggested that it might be the seat 
of the terrestrial paradise ; the place where Enoch and 
Elias remained in a state of blessedness until the final 
day ; and that it was made at times apparent to the 
eyes, but invisible to the search of mortals. Poetry, it 
is said, has owed to this popular belief one of its 
beautiful fictions ; and the garden of Armida, where 
Rinaldo was detained enchanted, and which Tasso 
places in one of the Canary Islands, has been identified 
with the imaginary St. Brendan. 

The learned Father Feyjoo, in his Theatro Crilico, 
has given a philosophical solution to this geographical 
problem. He attributes all these appearances, which 
have been so numerous and so well authenticated as 
not to admit of doubt, to certain atmospherical decep- . 
tions, like that of the Fata Morgana, seen at times m 
the Straits of Messina, where the city of Reggio and its 
surrounding country is reflected in the air above the 
neighbouring sea ; a phenomenon which has likewise 
been witnessed in front of the city of Marseilles. As 
to the tales of the mariners who bad landed on those 
forbidden shores, and been hurried from thence in 
whirlwinds and tempests, he considers them as mere 

As the populace, however, reluctantly give up any- 
thing that partakes of the marvellous and mysterious, 
and as the same atmospherical phenomena Vcvv&k ^sxix 

298 Brendaniana. 

gave birth to the illusion may still continue, it is not 
improbable that a belief in the island of St. Brendan 
may still exist among the ignorant and credulous in the 
Canaries, and that they at times behold its fairy 
mountains rising above the distant horizon of the 

-V. — Hy-Brazil, the Isle of the Blest. 

It will be interesting and instructive to set down beside 
this account of the " Isle of St. Brendan " the favourite 
spectacular chimera of the inhabitants of the Canaries, 
some of the stories that have been told of similar 
atmospherical illusions, visible from the western coasts 
of Ireland, which induced among the inhabitants there a 
firm belief in the existence of the famed Hy-Brazil, at 
some leagues distance off our western shores. 

Mr. James Hardimanf tells us: — " The inhabitants 
of the western coasts of Ireland think they frequently 
see emerging from the ocean certain 'happy islands/ 
which they suppose to be bound by some ancient power 
of enchantment. The belief in the existence of these 
Miranda loca> which Usher informs us were seen in 
the ocean by St.* Brendan, seems in former times not 
to have been confined to the vulgar. In an unpublished 
MS. History of Ireland, written about 1630, now in the 
library of the Boyal Irish Academy, we are gravely told 
that ' the Tuathdedanans coming in upon the Firbolgs, 
expelled them into the out islands which lay scattered 

* Life of Columbus, Appendix No. xxiii. 
f Irish Mtnstretly, to\. \ m ^. 36S-371. 

Legends of St. Brendan. '299 

on the north coasts, and they themselves were served 

in the same measure by the Clanna Milidhes ;* but what 

became of the remainder of them, I cannot learne, 

unless they doe inhabitt an iland which lyeth far att 

sea, on the west of Connaught, and sometimes is 

perceived by the inhabitants of the Oules and Iris. It 

is also said to be sometime seene from St. Helen's 

Head, being the farthest west point of land beyond the 

haven of Calbeggs (Killibeggs), Co. Donegal. Likewise 

several seamen have discovered it att sea, as they sailed 

on the western coasts ; one of whom, named Captain 

Eich, who lives about Dublin, of late years had a view 

of the land, and was so neere that he discovered a 

harbour, as he supposed by the two headlands at either 

side thereof, but could never make to land, although 

when he lost sight thereof in a mist which fell upon 

him, he held the same course several hours afterwards. 

In many old mapps (especially mapps of Europe, or of 

the world) you shall find this land by the name of 

O'Brasile, under the longitude of 03° 00', and the 

latitude of 50° 20'. So that it may be, those famous 

enchanters, the Tnathdedanans, now inhabit there, 

and by their magic skill conceal their iland from 


" But the most complete account of this fancifuHsland 
is to be found in a letter from a gentleman in Derry, 
named William Hamilton, to his friend in England, 
printed in London, in a.d. 1675, in a pamphlet which 
is now so scarce, that I am induced to lay it entire 
before the reader. It is entitled, * O'Brazile, or the 

* The Milesians, or descendants oil&V\»&\)&. 

800 Brendaniana. 

Enchanted Island, being a perfect relation of the late 
discovery, and wonderful disenchantment of an island 
off the north of Ireland.' * 

"Honored Cousen, 

... In requital of your news concerning the well- 
deserved fatal end of that arch-pirate, Captain Cusacke, 
I shall acquaint you with a story no less true, but much 
more strange and wonderful, concerning the discovery 
of that long talk't-of island, O'Brazile, which you have 
often heard of. I know there are in the world many 
stories and romances, concerning enchanted islands, 
castles, towers, &c. ; and that our king's dominions may 
be nothing inferiour to any other nation, we have had 
an enchanted island on the north of Ireland. When I 
went first into the kingdom of Ireland to live, and 
heard these stories, which were common in every one's 
mouth, about this island of O'Brazile (as they called 
it), which multitudes reported often to be seen upon the 
coast of Ulster, I look't upon it as a perfect romance, 
and many times laught the reporters to scorn ; though 
many sober and religious persons would constantly 
affirm that in bright days (especially in summer time) 
they could perfectly see a very large absolute island ; 
but after long looking at it, it would disappear. And 
sometimes one friend and neighbour would call another 
to behold it, until there would be a considerable number 
together, who could not be persuaded but that they 
perfectly saw it ; some of them have made towards it 
with boats, but when they came to the place where they 
thought it was, they found nothing. 

" I confess there were (in those days) two things 

* As the whole is too long for insertion here, I wiU give a few 
extracts from the "curious narrative." 

Legoids of St. Brendan. 301 

made me a little to wonder : firstly, how it came to be 
inserted into many of our maps, both ancient and 
modern, by the name of O'Brazile; and, secondly, 
what moved your cousin, who was a wise man and a 
great scholar, to put himself to the charges and. trouble 
(in the late king's time) to take out a patent for it, 
whenever it sJwicld be gained. Since the happy restora- 
tion of his majesty that now reigns, many reports have 
been, that it had been dis-inchanted or taken ; yea, at 
the time of the last parliament in Dublin (in the 
year 1663), one coming out of Ulster y assured the House 
of Commons (whereof he was a member) that the 
enchantment was broken and the island gained; but it 
proved not to be so. About two years after, a certain 
Quaker pretended that he had a revelation from heaven, 
that he was the man ordained to take it, and in order 
thereto he built a vessel ; but what became of him or 
his enterprise, I never heard; it seems that th« full 
time was not then come ; but I am now sure that the 
time or enchantment is now out, and the island fully 
discovered or taken, ' in this manner.'" 

He then goes on to relate at some length how 
" one Captain John Nisbet" formerly of Lisneskey, Co. 
Fermanagh, but latterly " of Killybegs, Co. Dunnegal," 
discovered this mysterious island, " upon the 2nd of this 
instant March, 1674, after a most terrible thick mist of 
fog had cleared away/' when he found himself upon 
a certain coast, close by the shore 1 . Here the captain and 
some of the crew landed, and met with a variety of 
adventures that are related in detail, but which I need 
not repeat here. The correspondent winds up his rela- 
tion by the assurance : " Dear Cousin, you need not be 
afraid to relate all this, for I assure you, beside the 
general discourse of the gentlemen in the country, I 
had it from Captain Nisbet's owamoxtfta,^^^^^ 

802 Brendaniana. 

several gentlemen have sent an express, with the true 
relation of it, under their hands and seals, to some 
eminent persons in Dublin. 

" Your most affectionate Cousin, 

" Wm. Hamilton. 
" Londonderry, March 14th, 1674." 

It is very likely that the " learned Father Feyjoo," 
who pronounced so strongly upon " the mariners' 
tales " about the " Island of St. Brendan," as seen from 
the Canaries, would not be complimentary to Cousin 
Hamilton of Derry, for his " curious narrative " of the 
disenchantment of O-Brazile by the Killebegs captain 
and his ship's crew, and would not hesitate to declare 
his relation to be " a mere fabrication " with a circum- 
stance. There can be no doubt that such atmospheric 
deceptions as led to the belief in the existence of this 
fanciful island of Hy-Brazail, were visible, not only 
from the shores of Western Donegal, but along the 
western coasts of Connaught and Munster whenever 
and wherever the conditions of sea and sky were 
favourable to their production ; but the phenomena did 
not always assume the shape of an island, for they put 
on various appearances, which were sometimes very 
curious and fantastic. In O'Flaherty's West Connaught * 
we have an account of some strange atmospheric 
illusions occasionally visible from the Isles of Aran. 
"From those isles and the west continent often 
appears visible that enchanted island called O'Brasil/f 

* Hardiman's edition, page 69. 

t " The people of Aran say that O'Brasil appears but once every seven 
jBaw."— Hardiman's Note, page 6$. 

Legends of St. Brendan. 303 

and in Irish Beg-ara, or the Lesser Aran, set down in 
cards of navigation. Whether it be reall and firm land, 
kept hidden by speciall ordinance of God, as the 
terrestiall paradise, or else some illusion of airy clouds 
appearing on the surface of the sea, or the craft of evill 
spirits, is more than our judgments can sound out. 
There is, westward of Aran, a wild island of huge rocks 
(Skird Rocks) the receptacle of a deale of seales thereon 
yearly slaughtered. These rocks sometimes appear to 
be a great city far off, full of houses, castles, towers, 
and chimneys; sometimes full of blazing flames, smoak, 
and people running to and fro. Another day you would 
see nothing but a number of ships, with their sailes and 
riggings; then so many great stacks or reekes of corn 
and turf ; and this not only on fair sun-shining days, 
whereby it might be thought the reflection of the sun- 
beams on the vapors rising about it had been the cause, 
but alsoe on dark ar*l cloudy days." 

Some years ago I got a description of phenomena 
similar to those visible from the Aran Islands from an 
intelligent man who lived near the Sandhills on the 
western coast of Ardfert parish, who had himself 
witnessed them a short time previously. He told me 
that about noon on a bright summer day he was doing 
some business on the sandhills near Ballinprior when, 
on looking seaward, his attention was suddenly arrested 
by an extraordinary spectacle, visible over the sea, 
apparently midways between Kerry Head and the outer 
Magheree Island, which, while he looked on for an hour 
or more assumed different aspects, sometimes like a large 
town with a number of spires and q\&bs&3%\ ^S&w 

304 Brcndaniana. 

seemed to be pasture land with cattle grazing about it ; 
and again, some ships in full sail came into view. All 
at once the whole vanished from his sight, " like the 
baseless fabric of a vision, leaving not a wrack behind.' ' 
In connection with the view of Hy-Brasail from the 
Aran Isles, I will insert the fine poem of Gerald Griffin 
on the subject : — 


On the ocean that hollows the rocks where ye dwell, 
A shadowy land has appeared, as they tell ; 
Men thought it a region of sunshine and rest, 
And they called it Hy-Brasail, the isle of the blest. 
From year unto year, on the ocearVs blue rim, 
The beautiful spectre showed lovel" and dim ; 
The golden clouds curtained the deep where it lay, 
And it looked like an Eden, away, far away ! 

A peasant who heard of the wonderful tale, 
In the breeze of the Orient loosened his sail ; 
From Ara, the holy, he turned to the West, 
For though Ara was holy, Hy-Brasail was blest. 
He heard not the voices that called from the shore, 
He heard not the rising wind's menacing roar ; 
Home, kindred, and safety, he left on that day, 
And he sped to Hy-Brasail, away, far away. 

Morn rose on the deep, and that shadowy isle, 
O'er the faint rim of distance, reflected its smile ; 
Noon burned on the wave and that shadowy shore 
Seemed lovelily distant, and faint as before ; 
Lone evening came down on the wanderer's track, 
And to Ara again he looked timidly back ; 
Oh ! far on the verge of the ocean it lay, 
Yet the isle of the blest was away, far away ! 

* Jfy-Brasail, not O'Brasail, is the correct form of the name, for the [ 

etymology plainly is /, or Hy (island), and brath (for ever) or breadh 
(happy) — Saoqhal (life) = Isle of everlasting — or happy life, or "Isle of 
the Blest." 

Legends of St. Brendan. 305 

Bash dreamer, return ! O, ye winds of the main, 
Bear him back to his own peaceful Ara again ; 
Bash fool ! for a vision of fanciful bliss, 
To barter thy calm life of labour and peace. 
The warning of reason was spoken in vain ; 
He never revisited Ara again I 
Night fell on the deep, amidst tempest and spray, 
And he died on the waters, away, far away 1 


The belief in the existence of a great western land, 
or group of islands, beyond the setting sun, was preva- 
lent from the earliest times among the Greeks and 
Latins, and their writers and geographers had given 
to it various designations, such as the continent of 
Kronos, Meropis, Ogygia, Atlantis, Insulae Fortunatae, 
or the Garden of the Hesperides. The philosopher 
Aristotle held this belief, and in one of his extant 
books described this new continent, from the account 
of Carthaginian sailors, as " a land lying far to the west, 
beyond the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar), 
which was remarkably fertile, well-watered, and abound- 
ing in large forests.' ' Plutarch locates Homer's Island 
of Ogygia five days' sail to the west of Brittia (Britain) ; 
and he states that the great continent, or terra firma, 
was five thousand stadia from Ogygia, extending far 
away to the north, and was so large that its inhabitants 
regarded the continent of Europe as a small island in 
comparison with it. But, perhaps, the most remarkable 
notices we have in the ancient classics of this western 
land are found in Plato's Timceus, where the writer 
relates the early traditions of the Egyptian priests 
touching the mysterious Atlantis. This is said to have 
been a fair anil fertile land, \Tfc&>\te&. Vj wk and 

Vestiges of Prehistoric Settlements and Missions. 307 

civilized nations, by peoples versed in the arts of war 
and peace ; an extensive country, covered with large 
cities and magnificent palaces ; their rulers, according 
to the traditions, reigning not only over a wide Atlantic 
continent, but over islands far and near, even unto 
Europe and Asia. This land is supposed to have been 
an immense peninsula, extending from the present 
Mexico, Central America and New Granada, so far into 
the Atlantic ocean, that the Madeiras, Azores, and the 
West India Islands are now fragments of it. Upon 
this fair and fruitful region there suddenly burst a day 
of doom and destruction, and the whole land, without 
warning, was ingulfed by the sea in a prodigious convul- 
sion of nature lasting for one day and night. Of this 
catastrophe a modern poet has sung : * 

Where art thou, proud Atlantis now ? 

Where are thy bright and brave ? 
Priest, people, warriors' living flow T 

Look on that wave I 

Crime deepened on that recreant land, 

Long guilty, long forgiven ; 
There power uprear'd the bloody hand, 

There scoffd at heaven. 

The word went forth — the word of woe— 

The judgment-thunders pealed, 
The fiery earthquakes blazed below ; 

Its doom was seal'd. 

It is a well-ascertained fact, that the whole bed of the 
Atlantic, where this great peninsula is supposed to have 
been situated, consists of extinct volcanos ; a fact that 

* Rev. J. Ooly'a Poem on the "ItafA. <A K^aavVa&r 

308 Brendaniana. 

may seem' to lend some vraisemblance to this tragic 

The ancient Celts, in their migrations from the East, 
brought with them to the West this strong faith in the 
existence of a wide and beautiful land towards the 
setting sun ; and when they settled in Iberia (Spain) 
and in Western Gaul, their earliest traditions tell how 
they believed firmly that the spirits of their deceased 
friends took their departure from certain promontories 
on their western coasts, towards this happy land, there 
to enjoy a new and never-ending life. This land, which 
they supposed to be an island, they named in their 
Celtic tongue, Flathinnis (Noble Island), and Yma, or 
Hy-ma (Isle of the Just or Good). When in the course 
of years, in obedience to the strong instincts that lie 
so deep in the Celtic nature, they migrated still farther 
to the West, even to Cymric Britain and to Ireland, 
they retained their ancestral faith in a still more 
western " Land of Souls," to which in the ancient 
language of the Gaodhal, they gave various names, 
such as Tir na m-beo (Land of the Living) ; Tir na n-6g 
(Land of Youth) ; Hy-Brea$ail (Isle of the Blest) ; and 
later on, when their dark pagan superstitions about 
the " Land of Souls " were dispelled by the light of 
Christian faith, and their notions of the future state 
were brought more into harmony with Christian teach- 
ing, their belief in this Western Land seems to have 
assumed another shape, and they regarded it as an 
earthly Paradise, which was known as the Tir Tairn- 
gire, or the " Land of Promise," as we find it in the 
Lives of St. Brendan and other early Irish saints. 

Vestiges of Prehistoric Settlements and Missions. 309 

Here the chosen servants of God may enjoy, for a time 
in the body, supreme earthly happiness, such as was 
vouchsafed to St. Brendan during his stay in this 
earthly Paradise, which should dispose them for the 
after revelation of the heavenly Paradise : 

. . . That glories hath more bright 
Than ere hath dazed the mortal sight ; 
One hundred thousand times more fair 
Are those abodes ; but thou couldst ne'er 
The view sustain, nor the ecstacy 
Its meanest joys would yield to thee ; 
For thou hast in the body come ; 
But when the Lord shall call thee home, 
Thou fitted then, a spirit free 
From weakness and mortality, 
Shalt aye remain, no fleeting guest ; 
But taking there thy endless rest.* 

The Celtic inhabitants of ancient Erin, therefore, in " 
pre-Christian times, as well as long after the advent of 
St. Patrick, held finely and constantly a belief in the 
existence, in one shape or another, of a great western 
land, and they had very probably found similar notions 
prevailing among the races that had colonized Ireland 
before they occupied it. The Celtic migration from 
Spain into Ireland under Milidh or MiUsius is supposed 
to have commenced about a thousand years before the 
Christian era, and seems to have continued for some 
centuries until those immigrant Celts became masters 
of the whole country. They had been borne along 
from the far East, by the main stream of colonization, 
which, as historians and antiquaries assure us, has, 
from the earliest ages, steadily flowed from east to 

* Anglo-Norman Troupere, \».J$fc VI h, *upTa« 

810 Brendaniana. 

west, until they landed on the shores of ancient Erin. 
This western island they colonized and permanently 
occupied; but beyond it still lay the great western 
land " towards the setting sun," the object of their 
ancestral belief and ambition. Did those migratory 
Celts, whose nomadic instincts had urged them from 
Asia to this western island in the ocean, make no 
movement farther west, during the many centuries of 
their occupation of Ireland ? It is hard to think that 
such masterful tendencies, as actuated the race, had 
spent all their force within the Irish shores, or that 
those adventurous Celts, while their faith in the exist- 
ence of a grefit western land probably grew more vivid, 
as they advanced in their migrations towards the west, 
made no attempts, put forth no efforts to approach or 
to reach it, during so many ages. It is very probable 
that many of them still nursed yearnings and aspirations 
to seek out that mysterious land ; and, in obedience to 
them, made efforts to penetrate and traverse the wide 
ocean, the great mare tenebrosurn, that lay between 
them and the object of their desires ; and we may well 
believe that such daring attempts were sometimes 
crowned with success. 


In a curious legend* given by Macpherson, in his 
Introduction to the History of Great Britain, it is 
related of a " Druid of renown " who dwelt in early 
ages beside the western sea, that he often sat on the 
shore, with his face to the west, his eye following the 
declining sun, and he blamed the careless billows that 
rolled between him and the distant Isle he desired to 

* Carious Myths, by S. Baring Gould, " The Fortunate Isles." 

Vestiges of Prehistoric Settlements and Missions. 311 

reach. One day, as he sat musing on a rock, a storm 
arose on the sea ; a cloud, under whose squally skirts 
the foaming waters tossed, rushed suddenly towards 
him, and from its dark womb emerged a boat with 
white sails and banks of gleaming oars on either side, 
but no mariner to be seen. Terror seized on the aged 
Druid, and he heard a voice saying : " Arise, and behold 
the G-reen Isle of the Departed." He entered the boat, 
and at once the wind shifted, the cloud enveloped him, 
and in its bosom he sailed away for seven days, until 
on the eighth day he suddenly heard a cry : " The Isle ! 
the Isle ! " At once the clouds parted before him, the 
waves subsided, and his boat rushed into a dazzling 
light, when before his eyes lay the " Isle of the 
Departed.' ' 

This is a characteristic specimen of those early Celtic 
'* Tales of the Sea," or IvircunJia, which were numerous 
and very popular among the ancient Gaoiihal. Of this 
class of our early tales, O'Curry says:*- "that the 
number that has come down to us is small, but they are 
very ancient; and though indefinite in their results, 
and burdened with much matter of a poetic or romantic 
character, there can be no rational doubt that they are 
founded on facts, the recital of which in a simple 
and truthful form would have been probably found 
singularly valuable ; but in the lapse of ages and after 
passing through the hands of the story-tellers, they 
become more and more fanciful and extravagant." 
Everyone who has read those Imramha> or voyages that 
O'Curry here refers to, such as those of " the Sons of 

♦ MS. Mattriah, p. ttft. 

812 Brendaniana. 

O'Corra " or of " Maolduin," will admit the truth of 
this criticism, and will agree that under all their wild 
extravagancies, there may have lain a substratum of 
valuable and interesting facts. If we could only divest 
such tales as this of Macpherson's " Druid of renown/' 
or another very early pagan tale of the " Voyage of 
Bran MacFebail,"of their poetic " gauds and trappings/' 
we would, I surmise, find the underlying simple facts 
to be real voyages of discovery undertaken in the course 
of ages by enterprising Celts, and resulting often in 
successful settlements from Ireland in prehistoric times, 
upon the great Western Continent ; and that those dark 
clouds and storms that in the j^etic imagery of the 
early voyagers or their story-tellers ever surrounded 
the mysterious land they sought, and through ,which 
alone they could or did reach it, were but a faint picture 
of the terrors of the ocean, the mare tenebrosum, that 
were encountered and overcome by many a Celtic 
mariner, who landed on the shores of North America, 
long ages before the Northmen discovered Greenland 
in the tenth century. 

I consider it, therefore, antecedently probable that 
some settlements of this kind, from which may have 
sprung in course of centuries a widespread colonization 
from Ireland in portions of North America, had been 
successfully carried out. To this it may be objected 
that the Celts, though daring mariners, had not vessels 
of sufficient power and capacity to enable them to 
accomplish a voyage across the Atlantic in those early 
times ; but we should bear in mind their ancient con- 
nection with Spain and Carthage, which they always 


Vestiges of Prehistoric Settlements and Missions. 313 

maintained by the closest and most constant maritime 
intercourse ; and in those countries they were sure to 
acquire a nautical knowledge and an acquaintance with 
nautical equipments the most perfect then known in the 
sailor world. There is a remarkable passage in Tacitus, 
which has been often cited by Irish historians in proof 
of the early maritime importance of their country, which 
would show that the Irish in his time were possessed 
of ships of no mean size or description. " Ireland," the 
Eoman historian says: "situated midway between 
Britain and Spain, and convenient also to the sea of 
Gaul, kept up an intercourse with those most power- 
ful portions of the empire to their considerable 
mutual advantages. The soil and climate, and the 
dispositions and habits of its people do not differ much 
from those of Britain, but the approaches and harbours 
there are better known by reason of commerce and the 
merchants." Comm "nting on this passage, Thomas 
Moore remarks that, While the Britons were shut out 
from profitable intercourse with the continent by their 
Koman masters, " Ireland continued to cultivate her 
old relations with Spain, and saw her barks venturing on 
their accustomed course " between the two countries. 

This may be sufficient to show that Irish vessels were 
really seaworthy and of sufficient capacity when handled 
by daring mariners, not only " to tempt the main," but 
also to traverse the wide Atlantic, during the centuries 
before and long after the Christian era. Of such 
maritime expeditions in pre-Christian times from 
Ireland, we have no record nor tradition, except what 2 ~ 
wrapped up in those wild Zmramfca I taNfe?sfa!ccs& 

314 Brendaniana. 

with ail their extravagant incidents and their "indefinite 
results ;" but of later voyages, after the Christian faith 
was established among the Irish, especially those of the 
holy men who sought seclusion from the world, " deserts 
in the ocean " as they called them, in islands far and near, 
we have some clearer record and some knowledge of 
definite results. In the Lives of many early Irish saints 
we meet references to such voyages undertaken by 
them or their contemporaries in quest of remote islands 
where they may find souls to be saved, or where they 
may dwell in utter retirement from the world, either as 
hermits or as cenobites living in small communities. 
It was of such recluses as these that the Irish monk 
Dicuil, who in a.d. 825. wrote a valuable book, 
De Mensura Orbis Terrae, has left us authentic record, 
where he speaks of the early migration of Irish monks 
and ecclesiastics, as far north as Iceland, in his own 
time and before it. He tells of certain monks with 
wlwm he himself had spoken, who had visited Iceland or 
Thule, as it was then called, about A.D. 795, and who 
had dwelt upon that remote island from the 1st of 
February to the 1st of August. He also states that on 
several islands not so far north as Iceland, but which 
may be reached from North Britain with a fair wind 
" in two days and a night/' supposed to be the Faroe 
islands, hermits from Ireland had taken up their abode 
nearly a hundred years before he wrote ; that is about 
a.d. 725 ; but, having been disturbed by pirate North- 
men, they afterwards abandoned them to the countless 
flocks of sheep and the myriad sea-birds that occupied 
them. Here we have a reliable account tha* the Irish 


Vestiges of Prehistoric Settlements and Missions. 315 

visited and inhabited Iceland towards the end of the 
eighth century, to have accomplished which they must 
have traversed a stormy ocean of about eight hundred 
miles in extent. Of this fact we find a remarkable 
confirmation in those ancient Icelandic MSS., published 
in the year 1887, by Professor Eafh, at Copenhagen, 
under the title of Antiquitates Amnricance, and of 
which our learned countryman, Mr. North Ludlow 
Beamish, F.K.S., has given an excellent summary and 
digest in his book on the Discovery of America by the 
Northmen in the Tenth Century y with Notices of Early 
Irish Settlements there ; published in London, in 1841, 
but which is long out of print. 

In this work Mr. Beamish undertakes to show, on 
the authority of those Icelandic Sagas and other MSS., 
" that sixty-five years "previous to the discovery of 
Iceland by the Northmen in the ninth century, Irish 
emigrants had visited and dwelt upon that island ; that 
in the tenth century voyages between Iceland and 
Ireland were of ordinary occurrence ; and that in the 
eleventh century, a country west from Ireland, and 
south of that part of the American continent, which 
was discovered by the adventurous Northmen in the 
preceding age, was known to them under the name 
of White Man's Land or Great Ireland." I have no 
doubt that any one carefully reading over and dis- 
passionately considering what Mr. Beamish has written, 
will admit that he has fully kept his promise. I cannot 
give his able and exhaustive arguments at any length, 
but I may insert a few extracts from what are called 
the " minor narratives " in those M.S&. " k\»Kfea^^sfii 

816 Brendaniana. 

(about A.D. 870) Iceland was covered with woods 
between the mountains and the shore. Then were 
here Christian people whom the Northmen called 
Papas ; but they went afterwards away, because they 
would not be here among heathens ; and left after them 
Irish books, and bells, and pilgrim staves or croziers, 
from which could be seen they were Irishmen."* " Ari 
Marson was driven by a tempest to White Man's Land, 
which some call Great Ireland (Irland ed mikla) ; it lies 
to the west in the ocean, near to Vinland the Good, 
and many days' sailing west from Ireland. From thence 
Ari could not get away, and was there baptized, a.d. 982. 
This story fii^t told Kafn the Limerick merchant."t 

An ancient geographical fragment is given in cor- 
roboration of the preceding : " Now are there south 
from Greenland, which is inhabited by Northmen since 
ajd. 985, desert-places and icebergs (probably Labrador), 
then the Skraelings (Esquimaux), then Markland, then 
Vinland the Good ; next somewhat behind lies White 
Man's Land ; thither was sailing formerly from Ireland; 
there Irishmen and Icelanders recognised Ari Marson 
of Eeykjaness, of whom nothing had been heard for a 
long time, and who had been made a chief there by the 
inhabitants."! In the Saga of the "Voyage of Bjorn 
Asbrandson," the champion of Breidavik, we are told 
that for urgent reasons he resolved to leave Iceland about 
a.d. 999, " and he got immediately a place in a ship, and 
they were very soon ready. They put to sea with a north- 

* From the Schedae of Art Frode, No. 54, fol. 
t From the Landnd mabok, No. 107, fol. 
} From the MS. Codex, TiO, c. %™. 

Vestiges of Prehistoric Settlements and Missions. 317 

east wind, which lasted long during the summer ; but 
of this ship was nothing heard since this long time/' 
In thirty years afterwards, another Saga tells, Gudleif 
Gudlaugson, a great merchant from Iceland, made a 
trading voyage to Dublin, and wishing to rfeturn to 
Iceland " he sailed from the West of Ireland and 
met with north-east winds, and was driven far to 
the west and south-west in the ocean, where no 
land was to be seen. But it was already far gone 
in the summer, and they made many prayers that they 
might escape from the sea ; and it came to pass that 
they saw land, a great land, but they knew not what 
land it was." They made for the land, and when they 
had been on shore a short time, some people came to 
them, wlw seemed to speak Irish, and who soon made 
prisoners of them. By these they were brought before 
an assembly to be judged. Ere their doom, either of 
instant death or slavery, was pronounced, a great body 
of men rode up, having a large banner borne in their 
midst, under which rode " a large and dignified man, 
who was much in years, and whose hair was white." 
To him, as to their chief, all present made due obeisance, 
and at once submitted the fate of the prisoner Gudleif 
and his companions to his decision. When they were 
brought before him he spoke to them in the language of 
the Northmen ; and upon ascertaining from them that 
some of them were from Iceland, he made inquiries 
about the principal men in certain districts there that 
were known to them. 

After a long parley with his own people, he prevailed 
on them to leave the fate of the ^moxi«^\\i\^\«aD3 

318 Brendaniana. 

whom he- then ordered to depart from the country 
without delay; for, as he told him in their own 
language, " the people here are not to he trusted, and 
are bad to deal with." He remained with them until 
their ship was made ready for sea, and until a fair wind 
sprung up to take them from the land ; and then he gave 
Gudieif a gold ring and a good sword, saying : " If the 
fates permit you to return to your own country of 
Iceland, then shall you take this sword to the yeoman, 
Kyartan of Froda; but the ring to Thurid,his mother." 
Gudieif and his people had a prosperous voyage across 
the Atlantic, and landed in Ireland late in the harvest, 
where they remained for the winter, and sailed for 
Iceland the summer following. Here Gudieif faithfully 
delivered over the valuable presents he brought, and 
proclaimed aloud that the aged chief, who had saved 
his life, and enabled him to return home in safety, 
was no other than the champion of Breidavik, Bjorn 
Asbrandson, who had sailed away from Iceland thirty 
years before, because he had loved the lady Thurid 
" not wisely, but too well," and who had not since 
been heard of. 

The reader will probably come to the same conclusion. 
Hence it may appear that this merchant, Gudieif sailing 
from the west of Ireland in a.d. 1029, with a north-east 
wind, is driven far to the south and west, and at length I 

lands upon a coast where Bjorn Asbrandson, who had f 

left Iceland thirty years before, had become a chief \ 

among the natives of the country. Now, if lines be ! 

drawn showing the courses they must have followed — i 

tne from the west of Ireland, and the other from the I 

Vestiges of Prehistoric Settlements and Missions. 319 

west of Iceland — these would intersect each other on 
the southern shores of the United States, somewhere 
about Carolina or Georgia, where various Sagas agree 
in placing " White Man's Land or Ireland the Great." 
Professor Eafh, Mr. Beamish tells us, is of opinion that 
this great Ireland of the Northmen was the country 
situated to the south of Chesapeake Bay, including 
North and South Carolina, Georgia, and East Florida; 
and he refers to a remarkable tradition preserved 
amongst the Shawanese Indians, who had emigrated 
more than a century ago from "West Florida to Ohio, 
that " Florida was once inhabited by white men, who 
used iron instruments.' ' Traces of Irish origin have 
been observed among some of the aboriginal tribes of 
North and Central America, which suggest a presump- 
tion that those countries had been colonized from Ireland 
at some remote period. Rask, the eminent Danish 
. philologist, favours t *>is opinion, which he founds upon 
the early voyages of the Irish to Iceland, and the simili- 
tude between the Hiberno-Celtic and some American 
Indian dialects. "When we find," he says, "that 
Icelanders discovered North America, it will appear 
less improbable that the Irish, who at that period, were 
more advanced in learning and civilization, should have 
undertaken similar expeditions with success." He also 
considers the name of Irland ed Afikla, applied to 
an extensive territory, to be a sufficient indication of 
the Irish having emigrated thither from their own 

" From what cause," asks Mr. Beamish, " could this 
name of Great Ireland have arisen, b\& ixom'Ofcfe WK* <&. 

320 Brmdanianu. 

the country haying been colonized by the Irish? 
Coming from their own green island to a vast continent 
possessing many of the fertile qualities of their native 
soil, the appellation would have been natural and appro- 
priate ; and costume, colour, or peculiar habits, might 
have led to its being known as the White Man's Land 
by the neighbouring Esquimaux, according to the in- 
formation obtained by Karlsefhe, who visited Vinland 
the Good from Greenland in a.d. 1011, and who 
captured some Skraelings, or Esquimaux, during his 
voyage. Neither the Icelandic historians nor navigators 
were in the least degree interested in originating or 
giving currency to any fable respecting an Irish settle- 
ment on the southern shores of North America, for they 
set up no claim to the discovery of that part of the 
Western continent, their intercourse being limited to 
the coasts north of Chesapeake Bay, where they dis- 
covered the countries they named Helloland, Markland, 
and Vinland the Good." I need not dwell longer on 
such " vestiges " as these of early Irish settlements in 
North America, and I proceed now to indicate some 
interesting traces of early Christian missions by Irish 
ecclesiastics on that continent. 

When, in a.'d. 1519, Cortez and his six hundred 
companions landed in Mexico, they were surprised to 
find that their coming was welcomed by the Mexicans 
as the realization of an ancient native tradition to this 
effect : — Many centuries before a white man had come 
across the great ocean from the north-east, in a boa 
with "wings " (sails) like those of the Spanish vessels. 
He stayed several years in the country, and taught the 

Vestiges of Prehistoric Settlements and Missions. 321 

Toltecs, who then ruled there, a new and humane 
system of religion. By his great wisdom and learning in 
divine things, by his piety and his many god-like virtues, 
he won the esteem and veneration of all the people, by 
whom he was known as Quetzatcoatl, or the Green 
Serpent— the word " green " in their language meaning 
what was rare and precious. Through some malign 
influence he was induced to leave the country, and on 
the shores of the Gulf of Mexico he took his departure 
from his disciples with a promise that he or someone 
sent by him would visit them at a future time. He had 
made for himself a vessel of serpents' skins, in which he 
sailed "away in a north-easterly direction for his own 
country, called the Holy Island or Tlapallan, lying 
beyond the great ocean. 

A minute description of his personal appearance and 
habits was preserved in this popular tradition for many 
centuries. He was a white man, advanced in years - 
and tall in stature — his forehead broad — he had a large 
beard and black hair — he dressed in a long garment, 
over which he wore a mantle marked with crosses. He 
was chaste and austere, temperate and abstemious, 
fasting often, and sometimes inflicting severe penances 
on himself. It is hard to conceive how the Mexicans, 
who had never seen a white man, and who were them- 
selves dark-skinned, with a few scanty hairs on the 
chin to represent a beard, could invent this singularly 
accurate portrait of an early European ecclesiastic for 
their traditional Messias ; and the natural inference is 
that Quetzacoatl was an European missionary who had 
preached to the Mexican people, *&& \fc& ^S&l 'Sasso^ 

322 Brendaniana. 

recollections of his beneficent mission which time and 
change did not obliterate. 

In the religion of the Mexicans the Spaniards found a 
strange and unnatural combination of what seemed to 
be Christian beliefs and Christian virtues and morality 
with the bloody rites and idolatrous practices of pagan 
barbarians. To account for this they were told by the 
Mexicans that the mild and humane part of their 
religion had been taught by Quetzatcoatl to the Toltecs, 
who ruled the country up to the eleventh century; 
but that the fiercer and more sanguinary portion was 
introduced by the Aztecs who occupied the land 

The Toltecs were a people advanced in civilization 
and in mental and moral development. They are said 
to have entered Mexico between the close of the fourth 
century and the middle of the seventh, coming from the 
north-east — probably from the Ohio valley, where vast 
remains of a Toltec character are to be found. They 
established laws and regular government during their 
sway in the country ; but, about a.d. 1050, they departed 
southwards by a voluntary migration, and are supposed to 
have subsequently built those great cities, the wonderful 
remains of which are still to be seen amid the forests of 
Central America. 

To a Toltec origin was, therefore, assigned whatever 
was gentle and humanizing in the Mexican religion ; 
and this the Spaniards considered to be a survival of an 
early knowledge of the Christian faith held by the 
people. Among those points of belief was faith in 
the Unity and Trinity of God, the Incarnation, and, 

Vestiges of Prehistoric Settlements and Missions. 323 

seemingly, in the Bedemption; for the people vene- 
rated large stone crosses set up in various districts, and 
when asked by the Spanish priests why they did this, 
they replied, that " one more glorious than the sun 
died upon the cross." They also believed iri original 
sin, practised infant baptism, and confession to their 
priests, held the doctrine of the Keal Presence and 
Transubstantiation, required celibacy in many orders 
of their priesthood, and enforced rules of monastic 
observance very like those practised in the early ages 
of the Christian faith. These doctrines and practices 
were attributed by the Mexicans to the teachings of 
Quetzatcoatl, who must, therefore, have been a Chris- 
tian missionary from Europe ; who, at some date, very 
probably between a.d. 500 and a.d. 800, taught the 
Christian religion to the Toltecs in Mexico. Within 
that period there was great missionary activity in 
Europe, and all the probabilities favour the theory that 
this European missionary reached Mexico within those 

Now, what country in Europe was most likely, at that 
period, to send out a missionary on such an expedition 
across the Atlantic? Was Ireland the " holy island," 
the Tlapallan of the Mexican tradition ? An affirma- 
tive reply may be readily given by Anyone who knows 
the ecclesiastical history of Ireland at that time, when 
no country in Europe was more forward in missionary 
enterprise, and when Irish monks and clerics shrunk 
from no adventures by land or sea, however desperate 
and dangerous, when the eternal salvation of heathen 
peoples was in question. At ih&k ^scmA \x&bb&. ^^ 

324 Brendaniana. 

known in Europe as the " Island of Saints;" and may, 
therefore, have the best claim to be the " holy island," 
the Tlapallan of the Mexicans, and the home of 
Quetzatcoatl, the Mexican Messias. 

I have stated here as briefly as possible the account 
of these Mexican traditions, and the inferences that 
may be fairly deduced from them, given in an able and 
interesting paper by Mr. Dominic Daly, published some 
years ago in The Gentleman's Magazine (Sept., 1888). 
The writer's statements regarding the traditional 
character and teachings of Quetzatcoatl agree substan- 
tially with those of Prescott, in his History of Mexico ; 
and the inferences he draws from them seem to be just 
and reasonable, leading fairly to the conclusion that this 
early Christian missionary among the Toltecs in Mexico 
was most probably one of those Irish ecclesiastics, 
whose ardent zeal for the glory of God and the salva- 
tion of souls, in the first fervour of that apostolic spirit 
they had inherited from St. Patrick, 

Bade them go 
Unfearing on the boundless deep 
To bear Christ's message to and fro ; 
Or if God's will decreed it so, 
Down in its tranquil heart to sleep.* 
Mr. Daly suggests that this enterprising missionary 

from Ireland was no other than St. Brendan himself, 

the date of whose famous voyages on the Atlantic (early 

in the sixth century) fits in squarely with the period 

most probably assigned for the sojourn of Quetzatcoatl 

in Mexico; and the possibility of making such a voyage 

• Voyag$ oftU 0' Carrot, by T. D. Sullivan, 

Vestiges of Prehistoric Settlements and Missions. 325 

at that age from Europe follows from the fact that the 
voyage was actually made by this Mexican missionary, 
whoever he was, and whatever part of Europe he sailed 
from. I cannot give space for the arguments and the 
very plausible reasoning whereby Mr. Daly supports 
this theory ; but they are worthy of careful considera- 
tion; and, as I believe, fairly tend to establish the great 
probability that St. Brendan, the " Voyager," was the 
Irish missionary whose extraordinay daring and nautical 
skill had designed and accomplished the wonderful 
voyage across the great ocean that brought him to the 
shores of Mexico, and thus won for him during all time 
the name and fame of the " Voyager," par excellence. 
Mr. Daly claims no more than this great probability, 
and that the theory he submits to his readers " involves 
no violent inconsistencies, and discloses in the evidence 
upon which it is based many notable coincidences in 
favour of the opinioii that the Mexican Messias may 
have been this remarkable Irish saint, rather than any 
other European Christian missionary of whom we have, 
or are likely to have, any knowledge." 

In his interesting paper Mr. Daly does not notice a 
singular trait' in the traditional story of Quetzatcoatl, 
mentioned by other writers ; namely, " that wherever 
he went, all manner of singing birds bore him company," 
Now, in the legendary history of St. Brendan, a very 
prominent feature was his association with " singing 
birds," as we may read in the account of his visits to the 
"Paradise of Birds/'* and in the beautiful legend of 
the angel's visit to him in the guise of a " radiant bird."t 

• •» Voyage, " c. v., page 128, tupra. \ ^v& IIV w^nra. 

326 * Brmdaniana. 

This was certainly a very "notable coincidence" in 
favour of Mr. Daly's opinion. 

Whatever should be thought of this interesting 
speculation, it may be accepted as at least furnishing 
a suggestive trace of an early Irish mission in North 
America, such as I proposed to shadow forth in this 
" piece " in Brendaniana. If we could disentangle the 
story of St. Brendan's voyages from the fantastic effects 
of the teeming fancies of the story-tellers, of whom 
O'Curry speaks in the passage I have quoted above 
(page 311), we would probably find the plain unvarnished 
truth to be that the famous voyager was in his Atlantic 
expeditions a great and successor missionary, and the 
pioneer of many other Christian missionaries, not only 
among the islands of the northern seas, but also upon 
the shores of the great western continent. Of the few 
early Christian " tales of the sea " — Imramh, as they 
were called — that have come down to us, none was so 
generally known and so popular as the " Voyage of 
St. Brendan ;" and upon none was more freely exercised 
the poetic genius of our Irish, as well as other European 
story-tellers, from generation to generation ; none "has 
been burdened with more romantic matter," as O'Curry 
expresses it, in all the manifold versions of it that had 
passed, not only into the Latin, but into the various 
languages and dialects of mediaeval Europe. Hence arises 
the special difficulty of discerning the underlying facts 
through all those extravagant fancies. But those facts 
were, no doubt, valuable and interesting ; and we may, 
perhaps, glean the clearest inklingnow possible of what 
they were in naked simplicity, itom \ta^ «vt\\e&t version 

Vestiges of Prehistoric Settlements and Missions. 327 

of them all, or rather the fragments of the earliest version 
of the Voyages of St. Brendan, such as we have them 
in the Betha Brenain (Book of Lismore), when read 
in correlation with some well-ascertained facts of 
St. Brendan's history. 

I have given (pages 104-108, supra) " a brief but 
accurate outline" of this Irish version, which I said 
" was seemingly made up of scraps and fragments from 
two or more earlier versions in Irish that have been 
lost." However, through those fragments we may 
catch some dim and distant glimpses of the simple 
facts, from which grew so many legendary excrescences 
in after ages. . According to this version, St. Brendan, 
soon after founding his earliest monasteries near 
Brandon-Hill, resolved upon a great sea voyage, impelled 
thereto by " the love of the Lord, which grew exceedingly 
in his heart." The purposes of the voyage are fancifully 
stated, but the literal truth seems to have been that 
the saint, from his " lofty observatory on Brandon-Peak," 
surveying the wondrous ocean, and firmly believing that 
among its myriad islands, and upon its farthest shores, 
where lay the great western -land, the end and aim of 
Celtic migration for many ages, there dwelt races of 
men, who had never heard of the saving name of Christ, 
desired, in his ardent zeal, to seek them out and bear 
to them the message of salvation.* With this intent, he 

* It is possible that the zeal of the saint may have been quickened 
by his experiences of some of the pagan sea-rovers who, issuing 
from the Northern Islands, infested and preyed upon the coasts of 
Ireland in his time. One of the earliest and best- authenticated 
traditions I have found in West Kerry regarding' St. Brendan^ 
runs in this wise : " When tho aamt \iaA IqmtA^ \&& \wsq»j&ssc^ 

328 Brendaniana. 

prepared the largest and strongest vessels that could 
be provided in that district, and set sail, with some 
companions chosen from among his monks, from the 
little creek near Brandon-Head, in a north-western 
direction. According to the earliest Irish version, this 
voyage occupied five years, during which he traversed 
the northern seas, probably as for as Iceland, visiting 
and evangelizing many islands in his course, but not 
risking to cross the great ocean towards the mysterious 
western land, in the light and frail craft he had sailed 
in from west Kerry. He then returned home, and know- 
ing where to provide a vessel of more powerful build, he 
" proceeded to Connaught, where a large and commodious 
ship was built, and provided with the needful equipment 
for a long voyage;"* and in this he again embarked 
with a crew of sixty devoted men, "who were all 
praising the Lord, and their minds were towards God," 
determined to traverse the great ocean in quest of the 
western land he had failed to reach in his previous 

at Fuithir-na-manac (page 75, supra), on the western slopes of 
Brandon-Hill, he had one day brought together many of his monks to 
erect the humble cells there, the remains of which are yet visible. 
Suddenly there came into view, sailing across the bay in front of them, 
from Ilaunamil (Whale Island, Magherees) a large vessel, which the saint 
knew to be a pirate ship. He called his monks at once about him, and 
telling them that those sea-rovers who knew not Christ were coming to 
plunder and destroy their monastery, as they had already robbed and 
ruined many, religious houses on the islands along the coast. He asked 
them to join him in fervent prayer that God may protect His servants 
from those wicked men. As the ship was nearing the landing creek 
under the monastery, a violent storm suddenly arose, which drove her, 
with her pirate crew, far out to sea, and she was seen no more in that 
neighbourhood. Soon after St. Brendan fitted out two large vessels and 
went on a long voyage." 
* Seepage 106, supra. 

Vestiges of Prehistoric Settlements and Missions. 329 

voyaging. By this time the saint had become widely 
known as a great and daring mariner, and the prepara- 
tions for this second perilous venture on the ocean, 
being no doubt on a scale of 3ome magnitude, must have 
attracted much attention and excited great interest in 
many places in Ireland, and especially where it was 
known that the purpose of the enterprise was to bring 
the tidings of the Gospel of Christ to those distant shores. 
This holy purpose must have been generally recognised 
by the faithful in Ireland, and special solemnity and 
importance attached to the expedition; whereas "the 
setting sail of Brendan and his crew " was commemo- 
rated by a special festival* on the 22nd day of March, 
noted in the earliest calendars of our Irish Church, 
which was observed with great devotion for many 

This second voyage, which was thus honoured and 
blessed by our ancient -hurch, was completely successful; 
and the saint happily reached the land he had sought 
for seven years, two of which were spent on the second 
voyage. How long the saint remained in this earthly 
paradise, as it is designated, and what was the nature 
and extent of his work while he remained there, we can 
only conjecture. The early Irish version having brought 
him and his companions to the blessed land, and 
introduced " a venerable old man," who welcomed them, 
and invited them, after their toilsome quest, "to enter 
upon and enjoy those happy plains of paradise, and the 
delightful meads of this radiant land, ,, breaks off the 

* See «• Notes on Irish Lite," ^a.«a *V, *upro* 

330 Brendaniana. 

narrative abruptly, and does not resume it. Later 
versions, however, tell that the saint and his companions 
enjoyed the delights of the land " for forty days ; and 
having traversed it in various directions during that 
time, could not find the limits thereof." They came at 
last to the banks of a great river, flowing from east to 
west, which "they could not by any means cross 
over." Here, I believe, we have the facts of the 
primeval tradition somewhat disguised by the fancy 
of the story-tellers ; and the underlying truth seems 
to have been that the land St. Brendan entered 
upon was the continent of North America, the limits 
of which h$ could not reach even by forty days' 
journeying to and fro within it; and that he went 
as far as the great valley of the Ohio — "the wide 
• river flowing from east to west," which he did .not 
pass over, but remained in the extensive countries east 
and south of it, until he had accomplished the objects of 
his mission there, when he returned again to Ireland, 
where other apostolic work was appointed for him in the 
designs of Providence, as we know from the authentic 
history of his after missions in Munster and elsewhere. 
Within the extensive region he had thus traversed in 
America, he fouiid, I have no doubt, many of those mi- 
gratory Celts — perhaps numerous colonies of them — who 
had reached the shores of the western land, during many 
generations before, among whom he and the " devoted 
men " who accompanied him on his mission, preached 
the Gospel of Christ with marvellous success, and after 
some time established many churches and placed 
the ministry of religion on a solid and enduring 

Vestiges of Prehistoric Settlements and Missions. 331 

basis.* When the saint returned to Ireland, he left after 
him some zealous missionaries to prosecute the apostolic 
work among those peoples, and how faithfully and 
successfully they and their successors, for many genera- 
tions accomplished that mission, we have, I think, 
some clear indications in the accounts left us by the 
Icelandic discoverers of, and settlers in ? North America 
during the tenth and eleventh centuries referred to 
above (page 319), of " "Whitemans Land" or "Great 
Ireland," the wide field of St. Brendan's missionary 
labours, according to the most probable opinion, where 
the Christian religion and its practices and ceremonies 
seemed to have been still flourishing, when the 
Icelanders visited the neighbouring Vinland the Good, 
four centuries afterwards. 

It was, very probably, from those early missionaries 

* To those alleged Irish missions in North America it may be 
objected, that if they had taken place there would remain more distinct 
traces of them in our early histories. It may be replied that many 
important events of much later American history continued profound 
secrets from the outer world for several hundred years. The dis- 
covery of Greenland by the Northmen, in the tenth century, and 
their colonizations there and further south on the American con- 
tinent, for nearly four centuries, consisting not merely of scattered 
settlements, but of organized societies, governed by laws and magis- 
trates, such as ruled in Iceland, were utterly unknown to European 
scholars and historians until the early years of the present century. 
Robertson, who wrote and published his History of America to ward 8 
the end of the last century, knew nothing about them. The fact that 
such noteworthy events as these, in American history, remained thus 
unknown for seven hundred years, " should have taught," as an able 
writer on this subject remarks, "antiquaries, historians, and philosophers 
of all classes, to be less dogmatic in their assertions regarding the events 
of primeval history, by proving that intercourse and various relations 
between distant races and nations may have been established and long 
continued, on points and at periods not fceaoit <A \&. Vta&e ^Oasssrss^ 

832 Brendaniana. 

whom St. Brendan had led to the shores of North 
America, and from their successors, that the Toltecs, 
who occupied the valley of the Ohio, and who migrated 
into Mexico in large numbers, received the knowledge 
of the Christian faith, as well as the high degree of 
civilization they are credited with; and I am, therefore, 
inclined to believe that the " Mexican Messias," about 
whom Mr. Daly has written so cleverly, was not 
St. Brendan himself, who certainly did not remain in 
America for the traditional period (" twenty years ") of 
Quetzatcoatl's sojourn among the Toltecs, but one of 
those " devoted men " who had accompanied him on 
his great voyage, and remained in the country to carry 
on his work ; or some later missionary who had after- 
wards come across the great ocean from the " Holy 
Island " of Ireland, in emulation of St. Brendan's 
famous enterprise, and devoted himself in a special 
manner, for many years, to the evangelization and 
civilization of the Toltecs in Mexico, where the memory 
of his holy life and beneficent labours survived in 
popular tradition the chances and changes of many 
centuries, but who may not have returned to Ireland at 
all ;. where therefore his fame, even his name, would be 
soon forgotten. 

Those few vestiges that I have feebly traced, of early 
settlements and early Christian missions from Ireland 
in North America, previous to the discovery of that 
country by the Northmen in the tenth century, are, 
I know, very faint and shadowy ; nor is this surprising ; 
for over the primeval history of that great continent, 
over the origin of the various races who occupied it, as 

Vestiges of Prehistoric Settlements and Missions. 333 

well as over the whole course of their history, hangs 
still a darksome veil, as dense as " the darkness that," 
according to the fancy of the story-tellers, " surrounded 
and long shrouded from view the land that St. Brendan 
sought for seven years." However, even the few faint 
glimmerings through the darkness that I have in- 
dicated may, by inviting competent inquiry into this 
difficult subject, serve to throw some light on its 

This great " western land," or, as the Irish version 
of the voyage of St. Brendan designates it, " those 
happy plains of paradise and the delightful meads of 
this radiant land" have been at length revealed to 
the world, " in God's own fitting time," through the 
marvellous courage and seamanship, as well as the 
exemplary Christian zeal and devotion of the illustrious 
" Grand Admiral of the Ocean," Christopher Columbus * 
Since this predestined " manifestation " has been accom- 
plished, whatever may be thought of primeval Celtic 
settlements within that land, it is most certain that 
many an exile of Celtic blood has sought and found 

* It is a well-known fact that Columbus, while maturing his 
plans for his great expedition, visited Ireland as well as Iceland in 
quest of information bearing on his theories. He was assisted in 
his researches by an Irish gentleman named Patrick Maguire, who 
accompanied him also on his great voyage of discovery. There are 
other Irish names on the roster of the ship's crew, preserved in the 
archives at Madrid ; but it is specially recorded by Father Tornitori, an 
Italian priest, in the seventeenth century, of Patrick Maguire, that he 
was the first to set foot on American soil. On the eventful morning of 
the landing, the boats bearing Columbus and some of his crew were 
launched ; but approaching the land, the water shallowed, and Patrick 
Maguire jumped out to lighten the boat, and then waded ashore. Did 
Celtic history herein repeat itself P 

334 Brendaniana. 

a home upon its hospitable shores ; and whether 
St Brendan and his companions evangelized its primal 
races or not, many an Irish missionary, with all 
St. Brendan's faith, and with much of his apostolic 
spirit, has in latter days borne the message of salvation 
to the various peoples who dwell therein. Hence the 
farewell address of the guardian spirit of " this pleasant 
land " to St. Brendan, when about to return to Ireland, 
as rendered by our national poet, Mr. D. F. McCarthy, 
if it were not a retrospect, would be a veritable 
prophecy : — 

" In after years, in God's own fitting time, 

Thig pleasant land again shall reappear ; 
And other men shall preach the truths sublime 
To the benighted peoples dwelling here. 

Then shall this land prove thy dear country's friend, 
And shine a second Eden in the West ; 

Then shall this shore its friendly arms extend, 
And clasp the outcast exile to its breast. 


MOUNTAIN, ON JUNE 28th, 1868. 

Sunday, June 28th, 1868, will be a day long remembered 
in the annals of our county. The religious services on 
the summit of Brandon Mountain, in honour of the Patron 
Saint of Kerry, took place with the greatest eclat, pre- 
sided over by the Bishop of the Diocese, assisted by 
several Priests, including the Very Kev. Superiors of the 
Dominican and Franciscan Orders in Kerry, and joined 
in by some 20,000 people. Never before did such a mighty 
congregation assemble in Kerry for such a purpose, and 
under such circumstances. Never were the faith and 
fidelity of our peo]/,» more gloriously demonstrated. 
They travelled many a mile ; they endured much fatigue ; 
they mastered a steep ascent over 3,000 feet high 
— nay, hundreds went to the mountain the previous 
evening, and slept there all night, to secure an early 
attendance at the sacred ceremonies, to give glory to God, 
and honour to one of His greatest servants in the locality 
consecrated by his prayers and presence. The most 
remarkable order and decorum prevailed throughout. 
Not the slightest incident occurred to mar the happy 
harmony and the pious devotion of the immense multi- 
tude. The day was gloriously fine, and the magnificent 
prospect, at all sides, as clear and beautiful as the most 
fastidious could desire. We cmno\» ^gtcx^fc. VmSusl 

336 Brendaniana. 

without making honourable mention of the pious and 
zealous priest, to whose generous inspiration and inde- 
fatigable exertions we are all indebted for this splendid 
Catholic demonstration. We allude to the Rev. T. 
Brosnan, senior Curate of Tralee.* 

With a humility worthy of his sacred office, he 
preferred to work on unseen and unknown in public ; but 
the joyous grateful shouts of the thousands who hailed 
him on the holy mountain, with their hearts on their 
lips, told better than any set form of words how highly 
and how justly his services in the cause of religion are 

In accordance with the original programme, 5 o'clock 
a.m. was the hour fixed for starting from Tralee. 
Punctually at that time the people began to set out. 
The Eev. Mr. Brosnan, with v/hom were the Very Rev. 
Father Murphy, Prior O.P., Tralee; the Very Rev. Father 
Arsenius, Superior of the Franciscan Order in Killarney ; 
and Father Prendergast, O.P., Tralee, led the way, 
followed by the members of the Carmelite and Dominican 
Confraternities of Tralee, on long cars, each drawn by 
four horses. Immediately after followed a vast number 
of cars containing some of the most respectable inhabi- 
tants of the town and neighbourhood. For over two 
hours afterwards various modes of conveyance continued 
pouring out of Tralee on to the West, and at every cross 
road on the route the cortege was increased by multitudes 
from different quarters. At the same time a large 
number of boats, well filled, were seen crossing the bay 

♦Now Parish Priest of Cahirciveen, and a Canon of the Cathedral, 

Public Pilgrimage to Brandon Mountain. 337 

from the Spa, Kilfenura, and various other places 
on the coast up to Clare — all bound for the same 

When the head of the procession neared Cloghane, 
at half-past 8 o'clock, the continuous line of car3, &c, 
extended to over a mile of the road, and others continued 
arriving at the village for hours afterwards. But long 
before this the mountain was occupied by numbers who 
lived in the neighbourhood, or who travelled there 
during the night. All ages and all classes were present ; 
the old vied with the young in activity — the women 
showed examples of indomitable energy worthy of the 
sterner sex. Merchants, shop-keepers, tradesmen, and 
others from the town, and even children, rivalled the 
rural population in mastering the difficulties of the 
journey. At all sides the greatest enthusiasm was 
displayed — all was bustle, joy, and good-humour. The 
refreshing showers which had fallen during the previous 
evening laid the dust, cooled the air, and rendered the 
trip in many ways more pleasant than it might otherwise 
have been. The day was altogether a pet day — even for 
smiling June. 

The Bishop, having gone to Castlegregory the previous 
day, arrived at an early hour at Cloghane, accompanied 
by the Bev. Mr. Irwin, C.C., Castlegregory, and awaited 
the coming of the Tralee contingent. Father Irwin 
stopped at Cloghane to celebrate Mass in the parish j 
church at 12 o'clock ; but, though this was announced 
for the convenience of those who might be daunted 
on seeing the mountain, comparatively few availed 
themselves of the considerate accommo^\»\sK\. 


338 Brendaniana. 

The ascent of the mountain from Cloghane was com- 
menced at 9 o'clock by the Bishop and Clergy, and the 
great mass of the people. A temporary altar was erected 
on Faha Mountain, at the base of Brandon, and here 
the Very Rev. Father Murphy celebrated Mass at 11 
o'clock, proceeding forward afterwards, with the most 
of those who halted here with him. 

The Bishop and Father Brosnan reached the brow 
of Brandon Mountain by half-past 11 o'clock, and 
were greeted by a long, loud, and ringing cheer from 
the thousands from the other or western side who 
already crowded the summit. The cheer was taken up, 
and echoed right heartily by the masses who were still 
ascending from the east. From the west to the east, 
through a space of several miles, that ringing shout 
went forth, like an electric shock, linking the gathering 
thousands in one common bond of gladsome sympathy. 
At the same moment the fog which had draped the 
mountain since morning passed away, as if the breath 
of God thus signally sanctified the work to encourage 
and reward those who had dared so much in such a holy 
cause. No words could paint the startling effect which 
the scene now presented, as the lofty summits of the 
surrounding hills — and especially that one high above 
all the rest, on which every eye from below was 
earnestly fixed— threw off the thin white drapery, and 
revealed themselves in all their natural glory, backed 
by a summer sky of spotless blue. Far above, the 
multitudes already assembled on the summit could be 
seen, while the procession of pilgrims still extended in 
one unbroken chain from beYcrw . Tta pretty banners 

Public Pilgrimage to Brandon Mountain. 339 

of the confraternities sparkled in the sunlight, and the 
varied dresses of the processionists— especially of the 
ladies — set off to still greater advantage a scene ani- 
mated and picturesque in the extreme. 

Arrived above, the glorious prospect which Brandon 
summit commands burst on the astonished view with 
sublime effect. From every mouth went forth heart- 
felt words of prayer and praise to Him whose wonderful 
works were thus lavishly revealed. Those who brave 
the break-neck dangers of Alpine journeys to gratify 
often a mere morbid curiosity, and who fill the world 
with laudations of what they saw and felt on those 
foreign dizzy steeps, can little imagine what a mighty 
thrill passed through this throng as they gazed enrap- 
tured on the glorious volume of nature's choicest works, 
and remembered that they came here following in the 
consecrated footsteps of one of God's most glorious 
saints, to join his ]>'ure spirit with heart and soul in 
offering fitting homage to the Author of all good. The 
two multitudes — those from the east and those from the 
west — joined together, and knelt around St. Brendan's 
Oratory, under the broad canopy of heaven. 

A fortnight ago, on the occasion of the trial trip, we 
described the main characteristics of the journey. Since 
then the stalwart men of the district, on being assured 
that the Bishop was determined to ascend, busied them- 
selves in improving the path up the mountain, and the 
fruits of their exertions in this, their labour of love, 
were pleasingly evident on Sunday. The path is con- 
siderably altered for the better. We already attempted 
to convey some idea of the sub\\me «&e&& y^^® 1 *^^ 5 ^ 

340 . Brendaniana. 

the. glorious elevation of Brandon Head. We must now 
notice more particularly some of the most interesting 
points in the prospect, and the associations that render 
them doubly dear to all who love this land of ours. 

This part of the coast is remarkable for the fact that 
the first landing of the Milesian expedition from Spain 
was effected here some centuries before the Christian 
era, and from this quarter did this colony diffuse itself 
throughout Ireland. Further on, up Dingle Bay, may 
be seen a glimpse of Ventry Harbour, where the fabled 
battle of a year and a day was fought out in the days of 
Constantine the Great (?) We may now look at the 
BlasT*ets or Ferriter's Islands. ^:nith, describing the 
second in magnitude, Innis MacKeilane, a century ago, 
said there stood in it then the ruins of an ancient 
chapel, in which an old stone chalice and a baptismal 
font, also of stone, still remained ; likewise a small cell 
or hermitage, being an arch of stone, neatly put together 
without any mortar or cement. There was one of the 
same kind at Fane, in Ventry parish, in a ruinous 
condition, and another at Gallerus. 

We will now look nearer home. Near the west base 
of Brandon Mountain, in a sheltered recess, lie some of 
the most interesting ruins in the whole district — ruins 
that bring us back immediately to the times and mission 
of our saint. We find an ancient edifice called 
St. Brandon's House, and traces of several other build- 
ings where the colony of his monks resided. In the 
vicinity is the ruined church of Kilnialkedar, one of the 
many churches erected in this neighbourhood by the 
Spaniards (?) who, in tlae oYdexi fa^ earned on a large 

Public Pilgrimage to Brandon Mountain. 341 

trade with West Kerry. It is a beautiful specimen of 
ancient architecture. Not far off — at a place called 
Gallerus — is another of the curious stone cells, entirely 
perfect, though a greater antiquity is ascribed to it than 
to the Bound Towers ! Petrie, in his work on the 
Bound Towers of Ireland, thus speaks of this devotional 
building : — 

" This oratory, which is wholly built ef the green stone of 
the district, is externally twenty-three feet long by ten 
broad, and sixteen feet high on the outside to the apex of 
the pyramid. The doorway, which is placed, as is usual in 
all our ancient churches, in its west-end wall, is five feet 
seven inches high, two feet four inches wide at the base, and 
one foot four inches at the top, and the walls are four feet 
in thickness at the base. It is lighted by a single window in 
its east side, and each of the gables were terminated by small 
stone crosses, only the sockets of which now remain. That 
these oratories — though not, as Dr. Smith supposes, the 
first edifices of stone that were erected in Ireland -were the 
first erected for Christian use, is, I think, extremely probable 
and I am strongly inclined to believe that they may be even 
more ancient than the period assigned for the conversion of 
the Irish generally by their great apostle Patrick. I should 
state, in proof of this antiquity, that adjacent to each of these 
oratories may be seen the remains of the circular stone 
houses which were the habitations of the founders ; and, 
what is of more importance, that their graves are marked by 
upright pillar-stones, sometimes bearing inscriptions in the 
Ogham character, as found on monuments presumed to be 
pagan, and in other instances, as at the oratory of Gallerus, 
with an inscription in the Graeco-Roman or Byzantine 
character of the fourth or fifth century." 

Direct from Kilmalkedar to the summit of Brandon 
runs a stone-built pathway, whose meaning is eloquently 
told in its local title, " The Pathway of the Saints." 

The polished remains of antiquity meet us here at 
every turn. In excavating for stones fox ^tafc te\x^rc»x^ 

342 Brenda?iia?ia. 

altars for celebrating the Holy Sacrifice on Sunday, 
the peasantry brought to view ancient sculptured stones, 
which had evidently formed part of the old church of 
St Brandon. Some of them are arched, and some 
elaborately carved somewhat in the same style as the 
arched stones of the front door of the old church of 
Kilmalkedar, of which a clever visitor in 1845 has said : 
."The entrance is a perfect rounded arch, with rich 
carving of heads, flowers, and foliage, which is not very 
much injured by time or climate." The stones dug up 
on the summit of Brandon are a foreign kind of marble ; 
several of them are pierced through with dowel holes, 
with appliances for gudgeons and cramps, dearly for 
the purpose of securing greater firmness and durability 
in the ancient building on this remarkable site. 


Immediately after arriving on the brow of the moun- 
tain, the choir, led by Father Prendergast, of Holy 
Cross Church, Tralee, and the confraternities clad in 
their habits, preceded by the cross-bearer, and bearing 
aloft beautiful banners — these of the Blessed Virgin, 
St. Brandon, St. Ita, St. Patrick, and St. Bridget being 
most conspicuous— formed a procession, and, singing a 
litany, proceeded to St. Brandon's Oratory, and formed 
around the altar. At the western end of the oratory, 
within its precincts, but more in view of the multitude, 
a temporary altar was erected. Here the bishop cele- 
brated first Mass, assisted by Father Brosnan and Father 
Arsenius. It was then deemed advisable to remove 
somewhat lower down the mountain, so as to be more 

Public Pilgrimage to Brandon Mountain. 343 

within view of the masses there. Here another tem- 
porary altar was erected, at which Father Arsenius 
officiated. Solemn Mass, coram episcopo, was next 
sung by Father Brosnan. The highly efficient choir 
from Tralee, led by Father Prendergast and Michael 
Butler, Esq., sang Mozart's Twelfth Mass in admirable 

Never was a more sublime scene presented than that 
offered to the honour and glory of God as the High 
Priest Celebrant raised the consecrated Host on high, 
while many thousand worshippers, all animated by the 
same holy feelings, from the venerable mitred prelate 
down to the peasant child, bent to the earth in lowly 
adoration. When Mr. Butler sung the grand Laudate, 
everyone present felt something of a foretaste of the 
exalted bliss of the angelic choirs, for the eternal enjoy- 
ment of which man was created, and to merit the 
possession of which this pilgrimage to Brandon summit 
reminded all should be the only and solid aim and 
object of their journey. 


The several Masses having concluded, 

The Very Kev. Father Eustace Murphy, O.P., Prior 
of H oly Cross Abbey, Tralee, then addressed the multi- 
tude as follows : — " Grand and wondrous, dear brethren, 
is the scene which at this moment presents itself, and, 
as we look round, expands before our view. The heart 
of Catholic Kerry is evidently pierced to-day to its 
inmost core : and her people, therefore, assemble in 
crowds, under *the guidance of their venerated and 

344 Brendanicma. 

saintly Bishop to proclaim aloud their faith, and to give 
evidence to the world that they are now what their fathers 
were fourteen hundred years ago— the followers of 
Christ, and the humble and loving children of His holy 
Church. Blessed be God ! the present is a glorious 
spectacle to witness after centuries of struggling and 
suffering for His own most holy cause ! Thousands — 
nay, tens of thousands of men and women and children 
— allied by one impulse of faith — congregate together 
on the summit of a mountain, some thousands of feet 
above the level of the sea, and which has been reached 
only after several hours of fatigue and toil, to feast their 
souls with the conviction that they are pleasing their 
own St. Brendan by manifesting respect for his memory, 
and bringing down the dew of heaven on themselves 
and their families by honouring one of God's most sanc- 
tified and illustrious servants. Little did St. Brendan 
think, when as a boy he was lisping his prayers at the 
base of this mighty hill, that the day should come when 
all Kerry would hasten to visit the spot hallowed by his 
saintly presence ; and still less did he ever suppose that 
the elevated spot which he chose for the purposes of 
penance and contemplation would be beset by myriads, . 
coming, as you have all come to-day, to ask his prayers 
and implore his protection. But, oh ! such is sanctity ; 
it has an embalming efficacy ; and the true servant of 
God will ever live in the affections of His people. 
Years roll on — time goes by — centuries accumulate on 
centuries — revolutions come — thrones are overturned — 
even the altar is borne away before the turgid flood of 
infidel excesses; but God, 'who is wonderful in his 

Public Pilgrimage to Brandon Mountain. 345 

saints/ guards their memories from oblivion, and in His 
own right time He causes them, as the Scripture 
announces, ' to declare all His wonderful works, which 
the Lord Almighty hath firmly settled to be established 
for His glory.' You were right, my brethren, in coming 
here to-day in the might of your countless numbers 
and the majesty of your imposing order. There was no 
confusion — no disturbance. Like the Israelites follow- 
ing Moses, or rather like the Jews accompanying Jesus 
to the mountain-top, you followed in peace and patience 
your anointed leader to this lofty spot to-day ; and your 
jonduct, so eminently Christian in every respect, while 
it shows that the instincts of faith alone dictated your 
action, gives at the same time the contradiction to those 
who would gladly fix on this religious uprising of a 
people the seal of folly, or perhaps even try to stamp it 
with the stigma of debasing superstition. Oh, senseless 
men ! why do you i *t remember that the folly of this 
world is the wisdom of God? Why do you not renounce 
the sources of wordly thought and silly ideas, and drink 
in your inspirations from the blessed fountains of divine 
wisdom ? Folly and superstition, indeed ! Does not 
the Holy Ghost, in the Book of Wisdom, say of the 
saints — ' They shall judge nations, and rule over people, 
and their Lord shall reign for ever'? Does not the 
same Holy Spirit, in reference also to His saints, 
exclaim — * Let the people show forth their wisdom, and 
the Church declare their praise.' And with these decla- 
rations, coming from the Most High, and, seeing the 
close connection which is thus established between the 
servants of God in heaven and His faithful fbllorcresft 

346 Brendaniana. 

still on earth, oh ! is it to be wondered at that you, 
my brethren, whose greatest glory is that yoa are the 
disciples of Christ, and the faithful children of his 
Church, should have seized the opportunity which so 
happily offered, and, regardless of all personal incon- 
venience, have manifested, by coming to this mountain 
to-day, not a cold, measured, formal devotion, but an 
unbounded, enthusiastic, all-engrossing love and venera- 
tion for no less a saint than the patron of our own land 
— for that blessed Brendan, who drew his first breath 
on your native soil ; who sanctified your fathers by his 
blessed teaching, and hallowed your country by his tears 
of penance and devotion ! You vjvre right, I repeat, 
my brethren, in coming here to-day ; for not only have 
you honoured the saint of your country, and your love 
by visiting in solemn procession the scene of his watch- 
ings, and, no doubt, the battle-field of his triumphs over 
the powers of darkness, but you have also evidenced the 
intensity of your religious feeling, and the unalloyed 
purity of your holy faith, by absorbing into yourselves, 
as it were, the sentiment which led him to choose this 
mountain as his place of retreat, and to fix upon it as the 
one cherished spot where he was to pour forth his heart, 
and empty out his very soul into the bosom of his God. . 
"And now, my dear brethren, I must not detain 
you any longer. Your beloved bishop who has 
brought down a benediction on this movement by his 
blessing and by his presence, and the good priest who 
initiated its rise and fostered its growth, and who now 
witnesses its success, are, I believe, to address you. 
I must, then, dear brethren, conclude ; but, before 

Public Pilgrimage to Brandon Mountain. 347 

doing so, I will express the fervent hope that as 
you came here for God, and to honour His saint, 
so will you, as you make your journey from the 
mountain-top think of that mountain which is above all 
mountains ; from which, being your home, thete is no 
descent, around which no mists gather, and whose 
inconceivable beauties are bathed in perpetual light. 
Think, oh ! think of that bright kingdom — heaven — 
which, like this glorious mountain, its befitting type, is 
reached, indeed, by a narrow pass, and through a route 
which requires even daily sacrifices, but which once 
reached is reached for ever ; where there are no tears, 
but all is joy, and where you will meet your sainted 
loved ones, and St. Brendan, and the other glorious 
saints of our ever-faithful Irish race, and St. Joseph, 
and the Blessed Virgin ; but before and above all, where 
you will gaze with enraptured love on the Adorable 
Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to whom be 
honour, praise, and glory for ever. Amen." 

His Lordship the Most Rev. Dr. Moriarty said: — 
11 My dear brethren, the worthy son of St. Dominic, 
who has just addressed you, has given an eloquent 
expression to the spirit of this religious ceremonial. 
When Father Brosnan proposed to me some time ago 
to come and visit Brendan Hill, I looked upon it as a 
pleasant excursion, and, at the same time, a pious 
pilgrimage. I have often come to the base of this 
glorious mountain, and looked with wistful eyes towards 
its summit ; but the visitation of the parish always 
occupied the hours I could spend here, and the same duty 
hurried me away to other places. One part, at leasts of 

848 Brendaniana. 

the spirit of St. Brendan has descended on me — his love of 
these mountain solitudes, of these gigantic altars, which 
the hand of God Himself has raised. I looked upon 
our visit as a pious pilgrimage. To-morrow Rome and 
the Christian world celebrate the festival of the great 
Apostles Peter and Paul, and why should not Kerry 
pay homage to the saint to whom her forefathers were 
indebted for the light of the Gospel ? So, I said, ' We 
will adore in the place where his feet have stood.' 
I had then no idea that we should have so many 
companions of our pilgrimage. I knew that the hardy 
mountaineers of the place would ascend with us to the 
old oratory, and join us here in prayer and sacrifice ; 
but, to my astonishment, I soon heard that numbers 
intended to come from Dingle and Tralee. Then I 
found that the movement had spread round about, and 
that, without any effort to excite it ; on the contrary, 
that, notwithstanding efforts to restrain it on the part 
of the prudent or the timid, it took a dimension which 
caused me to fear that some in their zeal might exceed 
the limits of discretion. Some days ago I crossed the 
Shannon to visit the hallowed sanctuaries of Innis- 
cathey, and those brave islanders who dwell round the 
shrine of St. Stoanus told me they would round the 
headlands, and meet me on Brendan. It would seem 
as if Senanus rejoiced in Heaven at the honour to be 
paid to his brother in the Apostleship, and that his 
spiritual children, whose home is on the deep, turned 
with devotion to the sailor saint of Kerry. And now, 
what may be the practical result of the pilgrimage of 
to-day ? It will be a solemn record of the devotion of 

Public Pilgrimage to Brandon Mountain. 349 

our people to their patron saint. The saints of our 
native land have been too much forgotten, too little 
honoured amongst us. They stamped the Christian 
name indelibly on our island, they burned the Christian 
spirit into the very heart's core of our people, they gave 
to Ireland a proud place in the Church's history, and, 
yet, it must be admitted the story of their lives is little 
known, and, with a few signal exceptions, their praises 
are not often heard, and their festivals are often 
unheeded. This should not be. St. Paul tells us to 
remember those holy men who spoke to us the word 
of God, whose faith he bids us follow, remem- 
bering the end of their conversation. In the spirit of 
this Apostolic counsel the Church wishes us to pay 
special honour, and to seek the special patronage of 
those saints through whose ministry our fathers were 
brought into the fold of Christ. In the days of trouble 
that have passed, the vjhurch of Ireland, like a wanderer 
in the desert, could retain little more than was essential 
to her life. Her ceremonial was curtailed, and that 
outward glory, which belongs to a season of peace and 
power, departed from her. The clergy celebrated in 
their Divine office and in the sacred liturgy the name of 
St. Brendan, but for near a hundred years his festival 
has not been kept as a holyday ; and I well remember 
that when I first ordered High Mass in our Cathedral, 
on the 16th of May, the day sacred to his memory, many 
said they did not hear his name before. This mountain 
bears witness against them, and I expect that this 
gathering to-day will bring back the memories of the days 
of old. We read in the Second Book of the Max&&Wfc> 

350 Brendaniana. 

that in the days of Israel's captivity the priests privately 
took the sacred fire from the altar, and buried it in a 
deep pit in a valley. And when many years had passed, 
Nehemias sent some of the posterity, of the priests who 
hid it to seek for the sacred fire. They found no fire, 
but thick water. He commanded them to lay on the 
sacrifice, and he sprinkled it with the water they had 
found, and immediately the sun shone upon it, and a 
great fire was kindled. Brethren, the sacred fire of our 
ancient altars seemed as if hidden in the days of our 
captivity. It was bfiried in the fastnesses of our moun- 
tains, but the sun of liberty shines upon it now. The 
days of our captivity are passed, and again it is kindled 
into a mighty blaze. 

"Brethren, everything around us now betokens an 
awakening which links the present with the far distant 
past. Some thirteen hundred 3 r ears ago Brendan was 
born, as we are told, in the marsh country near Tralee. 
It would seem that, like the great Anchorites who were 
destined for an enduring Apostleship, like Benedict in 
Subiaco, he sought the solitude of this mountain. We 
may piously suppose that he inhabited that ruined 
oratory in which we just now offered the Holy Sacrifice. 
It has been ever since an object of veneration to many 
a pilgrim, and to-day a large multitude, leaving Tralee 
in the early morning, have travelled these thirty miles, 
and toiled up the steep and rugged ascent ; and I saw, as 
I ascended with them, that their hearts were full of 
gladness, for they were treading in the footprints of 
their patron saint. If we look down to the western 
base of the mountain, tcrwaxds Smerwick, we find there 

PulliclPilgrimage to Brandon Mountain. 351 

that belt of ancient cells and oratories which tells of 
the great monastic colony who placed themselves under 
the guidance of St. Brendan; and the tradition of the 
people who dwell here, says that such was their number, 
that their procession reached from the monastery below 
to the oratory on the summit, stretching along the path 
which is still called the pathway of the saints. If the 
sea-fog cleared away, I am told that we might see from 
this spot the Island of Arran, where the saint went 
from hence to visit St. Enda ; and looking to the west we 
see now the same ocean on which St. Brendan launched 
his boat, and made that wonderful voyage which has 
been celebrated in song throughout all Europe, and 
which, most probably, led our saint to the continent of 

" The legend says, that an angel met him on the 
banks of a river and bid him to return,for the time 
was not yet come. St. Brendan, on his return, went 
to evangelize the Gauls, and this looks like a fore- 
tokening of the missionary history of Ireland. In the 
centuries that immediately followed the time of Brendan, 
Ireland sent legions of missionaries into ancient Gaul 
and Germany. But the time foretold by the angel to 
Brendan is now come, and so the missionary spirit of 
Ireland takes wings and flies to the west, and from 
shore to shore, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the 
sons of Ireland — aye, and her daughters, too — are carry- 
ing out the work of apostleship which Brendan sighed 
and sought for, but which, like the ancient patriarchs, 
he could only salute from afar. And now, my dear 
people, let me say that I look upon tl^N^^essoftta^ 

352 Brcndaniana. 


of many thousauds on this mountain-top as a grand 
profession of your faith. There are not many countries 
in the world in which such a spontaneous movement 
would take place. It was not you who followed me 
hither, it was I that followed you. Some will ask what 
was the reason, what was the purpose of your coming ? 
The less the apparent reason or purpose, the stronger 
the religious sentiment, the living force of faith which 
moved so many. When I think of my own unworthi- 
ness to be the pastor of such a people, I feel afraid to 
bless you; but I stand here as the Comorba of Brendan. 
1 derive from him, he from Patrick, Patrick from 
Celestine, Celestine from Peter, 1* .ter from Christ ; and 
* it is only because of the office and authority which that 
lofty lineage confers on me, that I now raise my hands 
to bless you." 

' His Lordship then pronounced the Episcopal Bene- 
diction, with forty days' indulgence. 

Father Brosnan then addressed the people in Irish — 
the old native tongue of St. Brendan — and moved the 
multitude with thrilling power. He treated at length 
on the origin of the present movement, its history and 

The descent from the mountain was accomplished 
with safety and ease. The wishes of the Committee 
were strictly observed ; not a single tent for the sale of 
drink was erected. On arriving at Cloghane a bonfire 
was found blazing brilliantly, and similar testimonials 
of general and special rejoicing, with loud and hearty 
cheers, greeted the party at various points on their 
return journey home. 

Public Pilgrimage to Brandon Mountain. 353 

Well has M. de Barneval exclaimed, summing up the 
eventful aud eloquent history which may be read right 
readily from Brandon Head : — " Thus have centuries 
perpetuated the alliance of the saints and the people, 
of Catholicity and Ireland, founded by St. Patrick, and 
cemented by his disciples — revolutions have failed to 
shake it — persecution has not broken it ; it has gained 
strength in blood and tears ; and, we may believe, after 
thirteen centuries of trial, that the Boman faith will 
disappear from Ireland only with the name of St. Patrick 
and the last Irishman," * 

* This account of the Pilgrimage is taken from a fuller report of the 
celebration that appeared a few days after in a local newspaper. 




Those interesting early English versions of the Brendan 
Voyages, were edited for the Percy Society, by Mr. Thomas 
Wright, F.S.A., who was its Secretary and Treasurer, and 
published, in 1844, by that Society in a volume of Early 
English Poetry and Popular Literature of the Middle Ages, 
which was the fourteenth volume of the series of the publica- 
tions of the " Percy Society." Those publications are now 
exceedingly rare, and difficult to be obtained, being accessible 
only in some of our public libraries. I found the whole 
series, some years ago, in the Library of Trinity College* 
Dublin, where it is marked (B. MM. 14) ; and, desiring to 
re-publish those early English versions of the Brendan 
Legend, I asked permission to take a copy from which I 
could get them printed. I have to thank the Eev. Dr. S. 
Haughton, Senior Fellow, T.C.D., for his great kindness, 
in not only obtaining permission to have a copy made for 
me, but in getting the copy made by one of the regular 
copyists employed in the Library, and sent to me, at his 
own expense. I give not only the versions — Metrical and 
Prose — but also the valuable Preface and Notes of the 
Editor, Mr. Thomas Wright, which will add very much to 
the interest of this portion of " Breudaffltaa&u' • 

356 Appendix. 


One of the most remarkable and widely-spread legends of 
the Middle Ages, was that of St. Brendan. Almost all 
nations which lived near the sea have liad their legendary 
navigators. St. Brandan was a Christian Ulysses, and his 
story had much the same influence on the Western Catholics 
as the Odyssey upon the Greeks. There are several remark- 
able points of similarity between St. Brendan and the 
Sinbad of the Arabian Nights, and at least one incident in 
the two narratives is identical — that of the disaster on the 
back of the great fish. How far the Christians of the West 
were acquainted with the story of Sinbad, it is difficult to 
say; but we have nearly conclusive reasons for believing that 
the legend of St. Brendan was known at an early period to 
the Arabs. Some of the Arabian geographers describe the 
" Island of Sheep," and the " Island of Birds," in the 
Western Ocean, in words which must have been taken from 
our Christian legend. 

The legend of St. Brendan exercised an influence on 
geographical science down to a late period, and it entered 
as an important element into the feelings of the Spanish 
sailors when they went to the discovery of America. There 
are, indeed, some incidents in the legend which might be 
supposed to have arisen from the traditional stories of early 
adventurers (for such there were, without doubt), who had 
been accidentally or designedly carried far out in the 
extreme west. So late as the end of the sixteenth century, 
the Spaniards and Portuguese believed in the existence of 
the Isle of St. Brendan, situated in the direction of the 
Canaries, which was seen sometimes by accident, but which 
could never be found when sought for (qtiando se busca no 
se halla). This notion existed still later in Ireland. Several 

Appendix. 357 

expeditions were fitted out by the Spaniards in search of 
this island; a king of Portugal is said to have made a 
conditional cession of it to another person, " when it should 
be found ; " and when the crown of Portugal ceded its right 
over the Canaries to the Castilians, the treaty included the 
Island of St. Brendan, as the island which Imd not been 
found. There were many who believed that this isle of 
St. Brendan had served as the retreat of Don Rodrigo, 
when Spain was invaded by the Arabs, and at a later period 
of King Sebastian, after the fatal battle of Alcazar. 

As far as I have been able to trace the history of the 
legend of St. Brendan, I am inclined to think that it first 
took the definite form in which it afterwards appeared, in 
the latter part of the eleventh century; at which time, 
probably, the Latin prose narrative was written ; although 
I think M. Jubinal has somewhat overrated the antiquity 
of the manuscripts used for his edition. Metrical versions 
of the legend, in Latin and Anglo-Norman, appeared in 
England as early as the reign of Henry I., and are preserved 
in manuscripts in the British Museum ; the Latin one in 
Ms. Cotton. Vepas. D. xi. ; and the Anglo-Norman version, 
dedicated to Henry's queen, Aaliz, in Ms. Cotton. Vespas. 

The MSS. of the prose Latin text are very numerous ; it 
has been edited, with early French versions in prose and 
verse, by M. Achille Jubinal, in an interesting volume 
entitled, La Legende Latine de S. Brandaines, avec une 
traduction inidite en prose et en podsie Romanes, 8vo., Paris, 
1836; to which I refer for further information on the subject, 
and for an account of the numerous other versions in almost 
every language of the West, several of which were printed 
in the earlier ages of typography. 

The English metrical version of this legend, now printed 
for the first time, is extracted from the early metrical series 
of Saints' Lives, which is so frequently met with among 
English manuscripts, and which appears to have been 
composed towards the end of the thktefcwiVi, ot Va*$ks&&% 

358 Appendix. 

of the fourteenth century The copy from which it is here 
printed (MS. HarL, No. 2277, fol. 41, V°.) is of the earlier 
part of the fourteenth century. This version is somewhat 
abridged from the Latin text, and differs so much from it 
in one or two circumstances, that it would appear to have 
been taken immediately from some other source. The 
English prose version is taken from Wynkyn de Worde's 
edition of the Golden Legend (Lond. 1527), and may assist 
such of our readers as are less intimately acquainted with 
the language of the fourteenth century in understanding the 
metrical legend. I have never examined into the question 
of the immediate source of the Lives in the English Golden 
Legend; but there is such a close resemblance between the two 
versions here printed, not unfrequently approaching to an 
identity of words, that there can be little doubt of the one 
having been taken from the other. In the few hasty notes 
thrown together at the end, I have selected two or three 
various readings from a collation (made several years- ago) 
of the text of the Harleian manuscripts, with a good copy of 
the Metrical Saints* Lives in the library of Trinity College, 
Cambridge. R. 3, 25. 

Thomas Wright, F.RS. 

Appendix. 359 


Seint Brendan the holi man was *ym& of Irlande ; 

Monek he was of hard lyf, as ich understonde, 

Of fasting, of penance y-nou} ; abbod he was there 

Of a thousend monekes that alle an under him were. 

So that hit ful an a dai, as oure Loverdes wille was, 

That Barint, another abbot, to him com bi cas ; 

Seint Brendan him biso^te anon that he scholde understonde, 

And telle that he i-se^ aboute in other londe. 

This gode man, tho he hurde this, sikinges he makede 

And bigan to wepe in gret tho3t, and ful adoun i-suo3e. 
Bituene his armes Seint Brendan this holi man up nom 
And custe and cride on him forte that his wit a3e com, 
" Fader," he seide, "par charity other red thu most take; 
Hither thu coin for oure solaz, and for such deol to make, 
Tel ous what thu hast i-se3e, as thu hast aboute i-wend 
In the mochele see of uce-ian, as oure Loverd the hath i-send." 
Nou is the see of occi • ,> grettest and mest also, 
For he goth the wordL aboute and alle othere goth therto. 
So that Barint the olde man ri3t at his hurte grounde, 
Wei wepinge began to telle what he er founde ; 
He seide, "Ich hadde a godsone, Mernoc was his name, 
Monek he was as we beoth, and man of grete fame, 
So that his hurte gan wende to a privei stede and stille, 
Ther he imjte alone beo to servi God at wille ; 
So that bi mi leve he wende and alone drou3 
To an ylle that is in the see that is delitable y-nou3, 
Biside the Montayne of Stones that couth is well wide. 
So longe that this gode monek in this ylle gan abide, 
That he had under him monekes meni on. 
Anon tho ich i-hurde this, thider-ward ich gan gon, 
So that in avisioun oure suete Loverd him kende, 
That a3e me, er ich come ther, threo journeyes he wende, 
So that we dude ous in a schip, and evere est-ward we drowe 
In the see of occian with turmentz y-nowe. 

* This digraph means either gh, or rfA, or tf, araacdxu&ta wrototX. 


360 Appendix. 

Toward than est so fur we wende, that we comrae atte laste 

In a stude suy the dure and clouden overcaste ; 

Al o tide of the dai we were in durchede. 

Atte laste oure suete Loverd forthere ous gan lede, 

So that we se3e ane lond, thiderward oure schip drou3, 

Bri3ttere hit thojte than the sonne, joye there was y-nou3- 

Of treon, of erbes, thikke hit stod biset in eche side ; 

Of preciose stones ek that bri3te schyneth wide ; 

Eche erbe was ful of floures, eche treo ful of frut, 

Bote hit were in hevene nas nevere more dedut. 

Therinne with joye y-nou3 ^nge we gonne wende ; 

The3 hit ous lute while tho3e, we ne mi^te fynde non ende, 

So that we come to a water cler and bri3t y-nou3, 

That evene fram-ward than est to- ward thane west drou3. 

We stode and bihulde aboute, for we ne mi3te over wende ; 

Ther com to ous a 3ung man suythe fair and hende, 

He welcomede ous everechon miltheliche and suete, 

And nemnede evereches oure name, and wel myldelichc ous 

gan grete, 
And seide, " 3e mi3te wel Jhesu Crist wel faire thonki mid 

That schoweth you his priveit6 and so moche of his mi3te. 
This the londe that he wole 3ut er the worldes ende 
His durlings an urthe 3eve, and hider hi schulle wende; 
This lond is half in this side, as 3e seoth wel wide, 
And bi3unde the water half en — del al bi thother side. 
That water ne mowe 3e passi no3t, that other del to i-seo, 
Her 30 habbeth al a 3er meteles i-beo, 
That 36 ne ete ne drinke n3ot, ne slepe mid 30ure e3e ; 
Ne chile ne hete ne fonde 3e no3t, ne no ny3t i-se3e ; 
For this is Godes prive stede thurf him is al this li3t, 
Therefore hit worth her evre dai, and nevre more ni3t: 
If man nadde a3e Godes heste nothing mis-do, \ 

Herinne hi hadde 3iit i-lyved and here ofspring also. j 

je ne mote bileve her no leng, agen ye mote fare, 
They hit ne thenche 30U bote a while, $e habbeth i-beo her 

That so he brou3te ous in our schip, and faire his leve nom : 
And tho we were ham-ward in the see, we nuste whar he 

A3e-ward we wende a3en oure wille, that of-tho3te ous sore 

Ajen to this other monekes this schip wel evene drouj ; 


Appendix. 361 

This monekes urne a3en ous, tho hi ous mi3te i-seo, 

And sori were and wrothe y-nouj that we hadde so long 

We seide hem that we hadde i-beo in alle joye and feste, 
Bifore the 3ates of Paradys, in the lond of biheste, 
That oure suete Loverd hath bihote hem that he loveth her, 
Ther is evere dai, and nevere ni^t, and evere lijt suythe cler, 
" Certes," quath this monekes, " this we mowe i-seo 

Bi the suete smyl of you, that 30 habbeth ther i-beo." 


THO Seint Brendan i-hurde this, he tho3te and stod 
He wende about his monekes, and tuelve out he nom, 
That he triste to mest of alle whan eni neode him com ; 
Thusc he nom in Consail, and in privets sede, 
" Siggeth what youre Consail is to do such a dede." 
" Leove fader," quath this othere, " oure wille we habbeth 

Oure freond and al oure other "god, and clanliche to the 

i-take ; 
And whan all oure dede is on the, and thu wost that hit beo, 
We schulle blithetiche with the wende Godes grace to seo." 
So that hi faste fourti dawes, and gret penance dude also, 
And bede 3urne oure Loverdes grace thulke v&yage to do. 
Hi leten hem di3te a gret schip, and above hit al bi-caste 
With bole huden stronge y-npu y-nailed thereto faste, 
And siththe i-piched al above, that the water ne come. 
Hi wende to here bretheren, and wel faire here leve nome, 
And siththe in oure Loverdes name to schipe wende anon ; 
Here bretheren that bihynde were sori were echon. 
And tho hi were in the schip, after ther come go tuo, 
And bede faste that hi moste thane wei mid hem go. 
" 3e mowe wel," quath Seint Brendan, " ac30ure on schal 

atta ende 
Eepenti er he com a3e, and al quic to helle wende." 
Thider wende this holi man whoder oure Loverd hem sende, 
And this tuei monekes that come last also with hem wende. 

IN the grete see of occian forth hi rewe faste, 
And triste al to oure Loverdes grace, and nothing nere 
The see drof here schip after wil, the v^wd^^ ^X»^-xsss*\ 

362 Appendix. 

As the wynd hem drof est forth, wel evene the schip him 

Evene a;e that the sonne ariseth a midsomers day : 
Nou nuste non of hem whar he was, ne no lond he ne say. 
Evene forth ri3t fourti dayes the wynd hem drof faste, 
So that hi se3e in the north side a gret ylle atte laste, 
Of harde roche and gret y-nou, in the see wel he3e ; 
Threo dayes hi wende ther-aboute er hi mit3e come ther 

A kite navene he fonde tho, a-lond hi wende there, 
Hi wende a-lond as maskede men. hi nuste war hi were ; 
Ther com go a wel fair hound, as hit were hem to lere ; 
At Seint Brendanes fet he ful a-doun, and make de faire 

" Beau frere3," quath Seint Brendan, " 3e ne thore nothing 

drede ; 
Ich wot this is a messager the ri3te wei ont to lede." 
This hound ladde this holi man to an^ialle fair y-nou3, 
Gret and stare and suythe noble, evene in he drou3- 
This monekes fonde in this halle bord and cloth i-sprad, 
And bred and fisch ther-uppe y-nou3, tner was non tna ^ nas 

Hi sete a-doun and ete faste, for hem luste wel ther-to ; 
Beddes ther wer al 3are y-maked, er here soper were i-do, 
After here soper to bedde hi wende to resten hem as the wise. 
Tho hi hadde alle i-slepe y-nou3, sone hi gonne arise, 
And wende to here schip, as hi hadde er i-beo ; 
In the see well longe hi were er hi mi3te lond i-seo. 
Tho hi se3e, as bi thother side, an ylle fair y-nou3, 
Grene and wel fair lese, thider-ward here schip drou3. 
Tho hi come on this faire lond, and bihulde about wide, 
The faireste scheep that mi3te beo hi se3e in eche side ; 
A scheep was grettere than an oxe, whittere ne mi3te non beo, 
Gret joye hi hadde in here hurte, that hi mi3te thus i-seo. 
Ther com go a wel fair man, and grette hem with faire chere, 
And seide, " 3e beoth hider i-come ther 3e nevere nere : 
This is i-cliped the Lond of Scheep, for scheep wel faire her 

Mocbele and white and grcte y-nou3, as 3e al dai i-seoth ; 
Pairere hi beoth than 30ure scheep, grettere unyliche, 
lor marie weder is her y-nou3, an( ^ ^ ese su ythe riche, 
Her nis nevere wynter non, for her nis non i-founde, 
Achi eteth therbes nue as hi springeth of the g [ro] unde ; 

Appendix. 363 

Ne me negadereth no3t of here mule, that hi schold the 

worse beo, 
For this thing and meni other the bet hi mowe i-theo. 
To a stede $e schulle hunne wende, thurf oure Loverdes 

That is Foweles Parays, a wel joyful place ; 
Ther $e shulle thus Ester beo, and this Witsonedai also. 
Wendeth forth a Godes name, that this veyage were i-do I " 

SEINT BRENDAN and his bretheren to schipe wende 
And rue forthe faste in the see, with tempest meni on, 
So that hi se3e in another side an ylle gret y-nou3 > 
Here schip thurf Godes grace thider-wardes drouj, 
Tho hit cam almest ther-to, upe the roche hit gan ride, 
That hit ne mi^te no3t to the ylle come, ac bilevede biside. 
This monekes wende up to this ylle, ac Seint Brendan no$t I 
This monekes gonne make here mete of that hi baddc i-bro^t. 
Hi makede fur, and soden hem fisch in a caudroun faste ; 
Er this fische were i-sode, somdel hi were agaste. 
For tho this fur was thurf hot, the yle quakede anon, 
And with gret eir hupte al up : this monekes dradde echon, 
Hi bihulde hou the yle in the see wende faste, 
And as a quic thing hupte up and doun, and that fur 

fram him caste. 
He suam more than tuei myle while this fur i-laste. 
The monekes i-se^e the fur wel longe, and were sore agaste: 
Hi cride 3urne on Seint Brendan, what the wonder were. 
" Beoth stille," quath this gode man, "for no3t 3e nabbe fere ! 
3e weneth that hit beo an yle, ac3e thencheth amis, 
Hit is a fisch c-f this grete see, the gretteste that there is, 
Jascom he is i-cleped, and fondeth ni3t and dai 
To putte his tail in his mouth, ac for gretnisse he ne mai." 
Forth hi rue in the see evene west wel faste 
Threo dayes er hi se3e lond, hi were somdel agaste; 
Tho se3en hi a wel fair lond, of iioures thikke y-noua. 
Wel glade hi were tho hi se3e that here schip thider drou3. 
In this faire lond hi wende lengere than ich telle, 
So that hi fonde in a place a suythe noble welle; 
Bi the welle stode a treo, brod and round y-noua, 
Foweles white and faire y-nou3 were m everech D0U3, 
That unetheeni leef hi mi3te theron i-seo, 
Ther was joye and blisse y-riou) lo \o\aa 0x1 ws&a ^ Has**. 

364 Appendix. 

BINT BRENDAN for joye wep, and sat a-doun a-kneo, 


And bad oure Loverd sohowi him what such a cas mi3te 

Tho fle3 ther up a lute fowel, tho he gan to fleo, 
As a fithele his wynges furde tho he to him-ward gan teo ; 
Murie instrument nevere nas that his wyngen were. 
He bihuld Seint Brendan with wel faire chere. 
" Ich hote," seide Seint Brendan, " if thu ert messager, 
That thu sigge me what ert, and what $e doth her." 
The* hit tho3te a3e cunde, this fowel ansuerede anon, 
11 We were," he seide, " some tyme was, angeles in hevene 

echon ; 
As sone as we were y-maked, oure maister was to prout, 
Lucefer, for his fairhede, that he fel sone out, 
And mid him also meni on, as here dede was, 
And we fulle also a-doun, ac for no synne hit nas, 
Ac for nothing that we assentede to his foule unri3t, 
Bote souleinent for to schewe oure Loverdes suete imjte; 
Ne we ne beoth her in pyne non, ac in joye y-nou3 we 

And somdel oure suete Loverdes mi3te we seoth, 
And bi the woithe we fleoth, and by the lifte also, 
As gode angles and lithere ek riat is for to do, 
The gode to do men god, the lithere lithere makieth ; 
And sonedai, that is dai of rest, such forme we maketh, 
The forme of suche white foweles as thu mi3ti-seo, 
Honnreth God that ous makede her on this brode treo. 
Tuelf month hit i-passed nou, that 30 gunne out wende, 
And all this six 3er e schulle fare, er 30 schulle bringe 

30ure wille to ende; 
For whan $e habbeth i-wend sove 3er oure Loverd wole 

30U sende 
A si3t that 30 habbeth longe i-so3t, anon after the sove 

3eres ende ; 
Eche 3ei*3e schulle her mid ous holde Ester feste, 
As 3e nou doth, forte xe come to the lond of biheste." 
Nou was hit an Esterdai that all this was i-do : 
The fowel nom his leve of hem, and to his felawes wende tho. 
The foweles tho hit eve was, bigonne here evesong ; 
Muriere song ne mi3te i-beo, the3 God silf were among. 
The monckes wende to bedde and slepe, the soper was i-do, 
And tho hit was tyme of matyus hi arise ther-to. 

Appendix. 365 

The foweles sung ek here matyns wel rijt tho hit was tyme, 
And of the Sauter seide the vers, siththe al to prime, 
And underne siththe and mid-dai, and afterwardes non, 
And eche tyde songen of the dai as cristene men scholde don. 
This monekes were in the lond ei3te wyke also, 
For to al the feste of Ester and of Witsonedai were i-do ; 
Tho com atte Trinity this gode man to hem ther, 
That spac with hem in the Lond of Scheep, and ladde 

about er. 
He chargede here schip suythe wel mid mete and drinke 

And nom his leve wel hendeliche, and aje-ward drouj. 
The seint Brendan was in his schip and his bretheren also, 
This fowel that spac with hem er, wel sone com hem to. 
He seide, " *e habbeth her with ous this he3e feste i-beo, 
Gret travayl 30U is to come er 30 eftsone lond i-seo ; 
3e schulleth after sove monthes, i-seo a wel fair yle, 
That Abbey is i-cliped, that is hunne meni a myle. 
3e schulleth beo mid holie men this mydewynter there, 
30ure Ester 3e schulle holde ther as 30 dude to 3ere, 
Upe the grete fisches rugge, ther thi monekes were in fere, 
And 30ure Ester mid ous ri3t as 3e nou were. 
Seint Brendan a Godes name, and his bretheren echon, 
In the grete see of oc< ^ n forth wende anon ; 
The wynde hem harleuo up and doun in peryls meni on, 
So weri hi were of here lyve, that hi muste whoder gon. 
Four monthes hi were in the see, in this grete turment, 
That hi ne se3e nothing bote the see and the firmament ; 
Tho se3en hi fur fram hem an ylle as hit were, 
He cride 3urne on Jhesu Crist that hi muste aryve there. 
3ut after than that Seint Brendan furst this yle i-se3, 
In the see hi wende fourti dayes er hi mi3te come ter ne) ; 
That hem tho3te here lyf hem was loth, this monekes were 

Hi cride 3iirne on Jhesu Crist, and his help hede faste. 
A lute havene suythe streit hi fonde atte laste, 
Unethe here schip com ther ne3, here ankre ther hi cast. 
This monekes wende ther a-lond, wel longehem tho3te er, 
Hi wende and bihulde aboute, wel murie hem tho3te ther, 
So that hi se3e tuei faire wellen, that on was suythe cler, 
And thother wori and thikke y-nou ; the monekes 3eode ner, 
To drinke of this faire wil ; Seint Brende seide tho he hit i-sej, 
" Withoute leve of other men tie some \\sy$* ^O&sst xs^ 

'866 Appendix. 

Of olde men that therinne beoth, for mid gode wille 

Hi woUeth parti therof with 30U, therfore beoth 3ut stille.' 

A fair old man and suythe hor a3en hem com gon, 

He wolcomede hem faird y-nou3, and Seint Brendan caste 

He nom and ladde him bi the hond bi a fair wei, 
Aboute into meni o stede, and siththe into an abbei. 
Seint Brendan bihulde aboute, and eschte what hit were, 
And what maner men were therinne, and ho wonede there ; 
Stille him was that olde man, and no $af him non ansuere. 
Tho se3e hi come a fair covent, and a croice to-fore hem 

With taperes in eche side, monekes hit were echon, 
Be vested in faire copes a3en hem hi come anon, 
With processioun fair y-nou ; the Abbot bihynde cum, 
And faire custe Seint Brendan and bi the hond him nom, 
And ladde him and his monekes into a wel fair ha lie, 
And sette hem a-doun a-renk, and wasche here fet alle. 
Of the wori wel hi wasche here fet, that hi er i-se3e ; 
Into the freitour hi hadde hem siththe and sette him ther 

wed he3e 
I-melled with his owe Covent ; tho hi were alle i-sete, 
Ther com on and servede hem, and brou3te hem alle mete; 
A fair whit lof he sette, bituene tuo and tuo, 
White mores as hit were of erbes bifore him sette also, 
Suettere thing ne mi3te beo, hi ne knewe hit no3t on, 
Of the clere wel that hi se3e er the monekes dronke echon. 
" Beoth nou glade," the Abbot seide, " and drinketh nou 

In charit6, of thulke water that 30 wolde er with W0U3 * 
Hit is betere dronke in charity, whan hit is pu i-brpujt, 
Than 3e hit theofliche nome, as $e hadde er i-tho3t 
This bred that we eteth nou, we nuteth whanne hit is, 
Ac a strong man hit bringeth ech dai to oure celer i-wis ; 
We nuteth no3t bote thurf God whanne3hitis i-brou3t 
For ho so douteth Jhesu Crist, him ne failleth nou3t. 
Four and tuenti freres we beoth her, and whan we beoth 

Tuelf suche loves eche dai he bringeth ous to mete ; 
And feste and everech holi day, and whan hit Sonedai is, 
He bringith o us four and tuenti loves, and ech monek 

haveth his, 
That ech frere of that he leveth wite to his soper ; 

Appendix. 367 

For 30U hit is to-dai i-dubled, as $e seoth nou her 

For oure covent nis no^t her, for moche del is un-y-ete, 

So that oure Loverd thurf His grace ech dai sendeth oure 

Siththe Seint Patrikes dai, and Seint Alvey also. 
We habbeth i-beo her fourscore 3er that noman necom ous to ; 
Evereft oure Loverd thurf his grace i-fed ous hath echon. 
This weder is murie evere ek, and sicknisse nis ther non. 
And whan we schule do oure servise, oure Loverd tent oure 

And oure taperes ne beoth nothe lasse, the3 hi berne day 

and ny3t." 
Hi arise up and to churche wende, tho hi hadde alle y-ete, 
Tuelf other freres of the queor hi mette to-ward the mete. 
" Hou is this ?" quath Seint Brendan, " nere thuse no3t 

with ous?" 
" Leove fader," the Abbot seide, " hit mot nede beo thus : 
Ther nulleth bote four and tuenti monekes in oure celle beo 

And whan 3e were ther with ous hi ne imjte no3t also ; 
The while we siggeth eve-song hi wolleth sitte and ete, 
Here eve-song hi wolleth sigge whan we habbeth y-ete." 

SEINT BKENDAN hihuld here fair weved, him tho3te hit 
was al, 
Weveth and caliz and cruetz, pur cler crestal ; 
Sove tapres in the queor ther were, and nomo, 
And four and tuenti sigen ek, to whan hi scholde go ; 
For ther were four and tuenti monekes, and everech hadde 

And the Abbotes sige was amidde the queor i-wis. 
Seint Brendan echte the Abbot, " Sei me, leove brother, 
Hou holde 30 so wel silence, that non ne speketh mid 

" Oure Loverd hit wot," the Abbot seide, " we habbeth her 

Fourscore 3er in such lyve as thu mi^te i-seo, 
And ther nas nevere among ous alle l-speke in non wise 
Er this tyme non other word bote oure Loverdes servise, 
Ne we nere never-eft in feblesce, ne in siknesse no3t on," 
Tho Seint Brendan i-hurde this he wep for joye anon : 
" Leove fader," he seide, " for Godes love, mote we bileve 

here? " 

868 Appendix. 

" The wost wel, sir," quath this other, " je ne mowe in none 

Nath oure Loverd the schowed wel what thu schalt do ? 
And come ;ut to Irland a^e, and thi tuelf bretheren also, 
And the thretteoth fram the to the ylle of ankres schal 

And the fourteotho to helle al quic, and beo ther withouten 

Tho ther com in a furi arewe at a fenestre anon, 
As he fram hevene come, and the tapres tende echon ; 
Aae-ward as he com at a fenestre there, 
This tapres brende longe y-nou^, ac hi no the lasse nere, 
" Loverd Crist," quath Seint Brendan, " ich wondri on mi 

Hou this tapres berneth thus, an ne wanyeth no3t." 
" Nastou no3t," quath this Abbot, " in the olde lawe 

Hou Moyses i-se^ a thorn berne franrtoppe to thegrounde? 
The suythere that this thorn brende the grennere the leves 

were : 
Ne wenstou that oure Loverd beo her as nmti as he was 

This monekes were togadere thus forte midewynter was 

Hit was tuelfthe dai er hi departede a-tuo. 

ANON to Seint Hillarie's dai Seint Brendan forthe 
In the see with his monekes, thur the grace that God hem 

Urne up and doun in sorwe y-nouj, the see hem caste he^e. 
Fram thulke tyme fur in Leynte ne lond hi ne se3e, 
So that aboute Palmsonede [i] hi bihulde aboute faste, 
Hi tho3te that hi se3e fur fram hem as a cloude atte laste. 
This monekes wondrede moche whar this cloude were : 
"Beoth stille," quath Seint Brendan, "er this 36 habbeth 

i-beo there ; 
Ther is oure gode procurators, that moche god ous haveth 

In the Fowelen Parays and in the Lond of Scheep also. 
So that the schip atte laste to-ward this yle drou3, 
A Scher-thursdai thider hi come, with travayl and sorwe 


Appendix. 369 

This procuratour com a$en hem glad, and wolcome hem 

And custe Seint Brendanes fet, and the monekes echon, 
And sifcte hem siththe atte soper, for the dai hit wolde so, 
And siththe wosch here aire fet, here mande to do. 
Al here mande hi hulde ther, and ther hi gdnne bileve 
A Gode-Fridai aldai forto Ester eve ; 
An Ester eve here procuratour bad hem here schip take, 
And the holi resureccioun upe the fisches rug make, 
And after the resureccioun he het hem evera teo 
To the Fowelen Parays, ther hi hadde er i-beo. 

THIS holi men wende forth, and Godes grace nome, 
So that to the grete fisch wel sone siththe hi come ; 
As a lond that hovede, here caudron hi fonde there, 
As hi levede upon his rug in that other $ere, 
Loverd Crist ! that such a best scholde beo so stille, 
And suffri men ther-uppe go, and do al here wille. 

THE monekes upe the fisches rug bilevede alle longe 

And songe matyns and eve-song, and siththe, tho his was 

li 3 t, 
Anone-ward the fisches rug hi songen here massen echon, 
And evere was this mochele best stille so eni s£on. 

AS this resurexioun with gret honur was i-do, 
And this monekes hadde i-songe here massen also, 
Aboute underne of the dai here wei to schipe hi nome, 
And to the Fowelen Parays thulke dai hi come. 

ANON so hi seje the monekes come, hi gonne to singe 
A$en hem with gret melodie, as hit were for than one; 
And thulke that spac with hem er sone toward hem drou^. 
The soun of him murie was, he wolcome de hem faire 

y-nouj : 
"3e an3te," he seide, " Oure Loverd Crist onury with the 

He purveide jou this four stedes to habben in joure reste, 
With ^oure gode procuratour, 30ure mand6 to do, 
And siththe ^oure resurexioun upe this fisches rug also, 
And with ous her this ente wyke for to Wvt&<yeA&j^ 

870 Appendix. 

And fram Midewynter to Candeimasse in thille of Abbai ; 
And in the grete see of occian with gret travayl )Q schulle 

And in pyne al thother tyme, forte sove jeres ende : 
And the Lond of Biheste God wole that je seo, 
And ther-inne in joye y-nou3 fourti dayes beo ; 
And to the contrai that je beoth of siththe 30 schulle 

Al eseliche without anuy, and ther 30ure lyf ende. 

THIS holi men bilevede ther forte the Trinity, 
Here procuratour com to hem ther hi were in gret 
plenW ; 
He broujte hem mete and drinke y-nouj, as he hadde er 

And chargede here schip therwith and let hem wende so. 

THIS holi men hem wende forth as God hem wolde sende, 
For Godes grace was with hem the bet hi lni^te wende. 
As hi wende upon a tyme in gret tempest y-nou3, 
A gret fisch hi se3e and grislich, that after here schip drou3 ; 
Berninge from out of his mouth he caste, 
The water was he3ere than here schip bifore hem at eche 

With his browen wel faste he schef; this monekes were 

And cride 3urne on Jhesu Crist, and in Seint Brendan also. 
After the schip so faste he schef that almest he com therto : 
As he hem hadde almest of-take, and hi ne toldeno3t of here 

Another fisch out of the west ther com suymminge blyve, 
And encountredt* this lithere fisch, and smot to him faste, 
And for-clef his foule book in threo parties atte laste, 
And thane wei as he cam er wel evene aje he drou3. 
This monekes thonkede Jhesu Crist, and were joyful y-nou3- 
So longe hi wende this holi men in the see aboute so, 
That hi were afingred sore, for here mete was al i-do. 
Ther com fleo a lute fowel, and brou3te a gret bou3 
Ful of grapes suy the rede, and evene to hem drou3 ; 
This grapes he tok Seint Brendan, this gode man sumdel 

Ther-bi hi lyvede fourte ny3t, and hadde alle mete y-nou3. 

Appendix. 371 

THO this grapes were all i-do, hi were afingred sore, 
Bi that o side hi seje an yle, and mete ther-inne more : 
The yle was ful of faire treon, and so ful everech bouj 
Of suche grapes as he se3 er, that to the ground hit droiy. 
Seint Brendan wende up of this schip, of this grapes he nom 

And bar hem to his schip, that fourti dayes hi laste. 
Sone ther-after cam a gryp fleo faste in the see, 
And assaillede hem faste, and here schip, and fondede hem 

to sle. 
This monekes cride dulfulliche. and ne told nojt of here 

ly ve ; 
Tho com ther flo a lutel fowel toward hem wel blyve, 
That in the Fowelen Parays so ofte hem hadde i-rad. 
Tho Seint Brendan i-se3 ^ em come > ne has no3t a lute glad. 
This lutel fowel smot to this grymp, and sette his dunt wel 

The furste dunt that he him 3af he smot out aither e$Q ; 
This lithere best so he SI03 that he ful into the see ; 
Thing that God wole habbe i-wist ne mai nothing sle. 
This holi men wende in the sea aboute her and there ; 
Ac in on of the four stedes in reste evere hi were. 

OTYME a Seint Petres dai, grete feste with here tunge 
In the see hi makede of Seint Peter, and here servise 

sunge ; 
Hi come in stede of the see, the see so cler hi founde 
That hi se3e on bi eche half clerliche to the grounde. 
Hem tho3te the ground i-heled was with fisches at one hepe, 
That hi ne se3e non other grounde bote as hi leye aslepe. 
This monekes hete Seint Brendan that he softe speke, 
That hi ne wei3te no3t the fisches, leste hi here schip breke. 
"What is 30U ?" quath Seint Brendan "whar-of beo 30 

of-drad ? 
Upe the maistres rug of alle fisches 3e habbeth y-maked 30U 

And ano-ward his rug fur y-maked, and doth from 3ere to 

This holi man makede loudere song, as hit for than one were. 

rpHE fisch sturte upe with here song, as hi awoke of 

JL slepe, 

And flote al aboute the schip, asbiWet^sk cfd&V^^n 

372 Appendix. 

So thikke hi flote aboute bi echo half, that non other water 

me ne se3, 
And bisette this schip al aboute, ac hi ne come ther ne}. 
So thikke hi were aboute the schip, and suede hit evere so, 
The while this holi man his masse song, forte he hadde i-do ; 
And tho the masse was i-do, eche wende in his ende. 
Moche wonder he mai i-seo, ho so wole aboute wende. 
The wynd was strong, and stif y-nou3, and drof the schip 

As fur as hi wende sove ni$t the clere see i-laste, 
So that hi se3e in the see as clerliche as hi scholde alonde, 
Gret wonder hadde the gode men, and thonke de Godes 


THO com ther a southerne wynd, that drof hem forth ward 
Ri3t evene no3th hi nuste whoder, that ei3te dawes hit laste ; 
Tho se3e hi fur in the north a lond durk y-nou3, 
Smokie as ther schipes were, thider-ward here schip drou3<. 
Tho hurden hi of bulies gret blowinge there, 
And gret beting and noyse y-nom, as ther thundre were ; 
So that Brendan agaste sore, and him blescede faste. 
Ther cam out a grislich wht wel lither atte laste ; 
Thurf suart and berning al his e3en upe hem de caste, 
And turnde him in anon ; this monekes were agaste. 
This lither thing maked a cri that me mi^te i-hure wide ; 
Tho come ther suche schrewen mo wel thicke bi eche side, 
With tangen and with hameres berninge meni on, 
To the brym hi urne of the see after the schip echon. 
Tho hi ne mi3te come ther ne3, hi gonne to crie faste, 
And here oules al bremringe after the monekes caste ; 
That me ne mi3te nothing bote fur i-seo ne i-hure, 
The see as he ful a-doun tho3te ek al a-fure. 
Ech caste upon other his oules al an he3, 
And aboute the schip in the see, ac nevere ne cam non ne3. 
Atte laste hi turnde hem a3en, tho hi ne spedde no3t there, 
And al that lond tho3te hem ek a-fur as the3 hit were, 
And al the see ther-aboutc smokede and brende faste 
Strong was that stench and that longe i-laste. 
Tho the monekes were so fur that hi ne n^te i-seo no-more, 
Here 3ullinge 3ut hi hurde, the schrewen wepe sore. 
" Hou thin3th you," quath Seint Brendon, " was this a 


Appendix. 373 

We ne wilnyeth come here no more, an ende of helle hit was, 
And the develen hopede wel of ous habbe i-had a god cas ; 
Ac i-hered beo Jhesu Crist, hi caste an ambesas." 

/T1HE Southerne wynd i-laste jut, and drof hem evere 

1 forth, 

So that hi se^e an hulle wel he3 fur in the north, 

Cloudi and berninge smoke, gret stench was there ; 

The lie of the fur stood an hej as hit a was there : 

If ther was moche smoke in than other, 3ut was ther wel 

On of his monkes bigan tho to wepe and 3ulle sore ; 
For his tyme was to i-come that he ne mijte no leng abide, 
He hipte him amidde the see out of the schip biside, 
And orn him faste upon this water to this grisliche fure ; 
He cride and $al so dulfulliche, that ruthe hit was to hure ; 
" Alias !" he seide, " mi wrecche lyf ! for nou ich i-seo myn 

Mid 30U ich habbe in joye i-beo, and y ne mai mid 30U wende : 
Accursed beo heo that me bar, and the tyme that ich was 

And the fader that me bi3at, for ich am nou for-lore I" 

A 3EN him develen come anon, and nome thane wre<$che 
/l_ faste, 
And defoulede him stronge y-nou3, and amidde the fur him 

Tho he fonde that Seint Brendan seide tho he out wende, 
Him faillede grace, hou so hit was, his lyf to amende. 
So stronge brend« the mountayne, that nothing hi ne seje, 
The 3ut hi were fur ther-fram, bote fur and lie. 
Tho turnde the wynd into the north ; and south- ward hem 

drof faste, 
In thulke side strong y-nou3 sove ny3t the wynd i-laste. 

SO longe hi wende evene South, that hi se$e attan 
A hard rock in the see, and the see ther-over wende ; 
Ther-over the see caste i-lome and ofte he was bar. 
Tho hi come the roche ne3 of other hi were i-war : 
Ano-ward the se hi se3e sitte, wan the see withdrouj, 
A wrecche gost sitte naked, bar arLdTftfe^Y^^-\&fty> 

374 Appendix. 

Above him was a cloth i-teid mid tuei tongen faste, 

The nyther ende tilde to his chynne, over al the wynd him 

That the water withdrou^, the cloth that heng he$e 
Beot as the wynd bleu the wrecehe amidde than eje. 
The wawes beote him of the see bifore and eke bihynde ; 
Wrecchedere gost than he was ne mai noman fynde. 
Seint Brendan bad him a Godes name telle him what he were, 
And what he hadde God mis-do, and whi he sete there. 
" Ich am," he seide, " a dulful gost, wrecehe Judas, 
That for pans oure Loverd solde, and an urthemid him was; 
Nis this no3t mi ri3te stede. ac oure Loverd me doth grace 
To habbe her mi parays, as 36 seoth, in this place, 
For no godnisse that ich habbe i-do, bote of oure Loverdes 

milce and ore, 
For y ne mijte habbe so moche pyne that y nere worthe 

For in the brenninge hul that ech of 30U i-say 
Mi ri^t is to beo and brenne bothe nyat and day. 
Ther ich was this other dai tho 30ure brother thider com, 
And was into pyne i-lad, and sone haddie his dom ; 
Therfore helle was the glad y-nou3, that he makede the 

grettere lye 
For joye tho he was i-come that 3e so fur i-sye. 
So he doth whan eni soule furst is thider i-come. 
Thurf oure Loverdes suete milce ich am nou thanne y-nome ; 
For ich am her ech Soneday, and fram the Saterdayes eve 
Forte hit beo thane Soneday eve her ich shal bileve, 
And at Midewynter ek forte twelfthe day beo i-do, 
And fram byginning ek Ester forte Whitsoneday also, 
And at oure Lefdi feste ek, for ful of milce* heo is ; 
In al the other tyme of the 3er in hell ich am i-wis, 
With Pilatus, Herudes, Anne, and Kayfas. 
Bote ich mai cursi the tyme that ich i-bore was ; 
And ich bidde 30U for the love of God that 3c fondie in alle 

That ich bileve her al ni3t forte the sonne arise, 
And that 3e wite me fram the develen that cometh sone 

after me." 

SEINT Brendan seide, " Thurf Godes grace we schulle 
schulde the : 
Tel me what is the cloth that so he^e hongeth there.' 

Appendix. 375 

" Tho ich was an urthe," quath Judas, "and oure Loverdes 

pans ber, 
This cloth ich $af a mesel, and for myne nas hit no3t, 
Ac hit was mid oure Loverdes pans and mid oure bretherne 

i-bo3t ; 
Ac for ich hit 3af for Godes love nou hit is me bifore, 
For me ne schal nothing for him do that schal beo forlore ; 
And for hit was other mannes, as myn inwit understod, 
Hit me doth the} hit hongi her more harm than god, 
For hit bet in myn e$en sore, and doth me harm y-nouj." 
Her me mai i-seo which hit is to jyve other manes with 

As woleth meni riche men mid unri3t al dai take 
Of pore men her and thar, and almisse siththe make ; 
That hi doth for Godes love ne schal hem no3t beo for^ute, 
Ac to pyne hit schal hem turne, as hi mowe thanne wite. 
" The tongen also," quath Judas, " that 30 seoth hongen 

an he3, 
Preostes ich 3af an urthe, therfore here hi beoth ; 
For clenliche me schal eche thing fynde that me doth for his 

The ston upe whan ich sitte, that maketh me sitte above, 
Ina wei ich him fond ligge ther no neod nas to ston, 
Ich caste him in a du.^ dich that me mi3te ther-over gon, 
Fewe gode dede ich haube i-do that iche mowe of telle, 
Ac non so lute that y ne fynde her other in helle." 

TPHO hit was eve thane Sonedai, the develen come 

Jt Waste, 

T lede to helle this wrecche gost ; hi cride and 3ulle faste, . 
"Wend hunne," hi seide, " thu Godes man, thunastnojt 

her to done, 
Let ous habbe oure felawe and lede to helle sone ; 
For we ne thore oure maister i-seo er we him habbe i-brou3t : 
Wend from him, for hit is tyme, and ne lette ous no^t." 
" 1 lette you no3t," quath Seint Brendan, " ne ne witie 30U 

That doth oure Loverd Jhesu Christ, that is of more poer." 

* *TTOU therstou," quath this develen, " bifore him nemne 

11 his name ? 
Ne bitrayde he him and solde ek te dethe with grete 
schame ?" 

376 Appendix. 

Seint Brendan seide, " In his name ich hote jou as ich mai, 
That 30 ne tuouche him nojt to nijt, er to morwe that hit 

boo day." 
Orisliche the develen 3ulle, and ajen gonne fleo. 
Judas thonkede pitousliche, that deol hit was to seo. 
A-morwe, so sone as hit was dai, the develen gonne blaste, 
Grisliche hi cride and 3ulle also, and chidde also faste, 
" Awei I" he seide, " thu Godes man, acursed beo the stounde 
That thu come her owhar about, and that we there here 

f ounde : 
Oure maister ous hath i-turmented so grisliche allonge nijt, 
And stronge y-nou3, * or we ne brou3te mid ous this lithere 

Ac we wolleth ous wel awreke, upe him silve hit schal go, 
For we schulle this six dayes therfore dubli his wo." 
This wrecche gost quakede tho, that reuthe hit was to telle ; 
The develen him nome wel Grisliche, and bere into helle. 
Ac Seint Brendan hem forbed in oure Loverdes name, 
That he nadde for thulke ni*t nevere the more schame. 
Seint Brendan and his monekes in the see forth wende 
Ri3t threo dayes evene south, as oure Loverd hem sende ; 
The furde dai hi se3e an yle al bi southe an b^, 
Seint Brendan si3te sore tho he this yle i-se3, 
" Poul," he seide, " the ermite, is in the yle that ich i-seo, 
Ther he hath withoute mete this fourti 3er i-beo." 

fPUO hi come to this yle, yn hi wende echon, 
I The ermite that was so old a3en hem com gon ; 
His her to his fet tilde of berde and of heved, 
. And helede al about his bodi, nas ther no bar on him bileved ; 
None other clothes nadde he on, his lymes were all hpre, 
Seint Brendan him bihulde, and gan to sike sore, 
" Alias I" he seide, "ich have so 3are in stede monek i-beo, 
And nou in lyf of an angel a man ich i-seo." 

** T)EO stille," quath this Ermite, "God doth bet bi 

JJ the, 
For he schoweth the more than eni other of his priveit6 : 
For o monek lyveth bi the swynk of his owe honde, 
And thurf oure Loverdes grace the lyvest, and thurf his 

sonde ; 
Of the Abbey of Seint Patrik monek ich was i-wis, 
And of his rJburch ai a waT(te\T\. *W. ^^m^Vc^\&\ 

Appendix. 377 

Adai ther com a man to me, ich eschte what he were, 
Ich am, he seide, thyn abbod, of me nave thu no fere. 
Non other man than Seint Patrick abbot nis, ich sede. 
No ich hit am, quath this other," ne therstou nothing drede 
To morwe arys sone days to the see thu must wende, 
A schip thu schal fynde $are, as oure Loverd the wole sende : 
Do the forth in thulke schip in the see wel wide, 
And hit wole the lede into the stede ther thu schalt abide. 
Sone a morwe ich aros to don his holi bone, 
Forth ich wende to the see, a schip ich foii'd sone, 
Mid me ich let the schip i-worthe ; welevene forth hit wende, 
Thane sovethe dai into this yle oure Loverd me sende. 
So sone ich was out of tho schip, a$e thane wei hit nom, 
As evene as hit mi3te drarne ri3t as hit thider com. 
Eling ich $eode her alone, confort nadde ich non, 
So that upe his hynder fet an oter ther com gon, 
Mid his forthere fet he brou3te a fur-ire and a ston, 
Forto smyte fur therwith, and of fisch god won. 
This oter wende a$e anon ; ich makede me fur wel faste, 
And seoth me fisch a Godes name that threo dayes i-laste, 
So that evere the thridde dai this oter to me drou^, 
And brou3te me mete that ich hadde threo dayes y-nou3 ; 
Water of this harde ston, thurf oure Loverdes sonde, 
Ther sprong out ech Sonedai to drinke and to wasche myn 

rnHO ich hadde her in thisse lyve thretti 3er i-beo, 
L This welle him gan furst to schewe, that thu mi3t her i-seo. 
Bi this wille ich have i-lyved fonr and tuenti, er nou non, 
And vyfti 3er ich was old tho ich gan hider gon ; 
So that of an hondred 3er and tuenti ther-to 
Bi this tyme ich am i-redi oure Loverdes wille to do, 
And mi deth ich abide her, whan hyne wole me sende, 
Whan God wole that ich come to him and out of this wordle 

And nym with the of this water what thu hast neode ther-to, 
And wend forth faste in the see, for thi wei nis no3t i-do ; 
For thu schalt 3ut in the see fourti dayes fare, 
Thanne thu schalt thin Ester holde ther thu hast i-do 3are, 
And thanne thu shalt wende forth to the Lond of Biheste, 
And ther thu schalt fourti dayes bileve atte meste, 
And to thin owe lond a3e thu shalt wende so." 
This gode men with deol y-nouj (\e^^^^>2tvsx^^A»a^ 

S78 Appendix. 

11HIS gode men hem wende forth in the see faste, 
Fourti dayes evene south the while Leynte i-laste ; 
To here gode procuratour an Ester eve hi come. 
With hem he makede joye y-noii3, as he dude er i-lome, 
He ladde hem to this grcte fisch, thider hi come an eve, 
This Ester ni$t forte a-morwe ther hi scholde bileve, 
Ther hi seide here matyns and here masse also. 
This fisch bigan to moevi him tho the mass was i-do, 
And bar this monekes forth with him, and swam forth wel 

- In the grete see wel grislich, this monekes were agaate, 
A wonder thing hit was to mete, ho so hit hadde i-seil, 
A so gret best abonte wende into al the contreye. 
To this Fowelen Parays this monekes he ladde echon, 
And sette hem up ther hoi and sound, and wende aje anon. 
Tho this monekes thider come wel joyful hi were ; 
Forte after the Trinite hi bileved thero, 
For here procuratour bi thulke ty*ie broujte hem mete 

As he hadde er ofte i-do, into here schip hit drou;, 
And wende forth with hem whoder oure Loverd hem sende. 
Ri3t evene toward than est fourti dayes hi wende ; 
Tho this fourti dayes were i-do hit bigan to haweli faste, 
A wel dure myst there com also that wel longe i-laste. 
" Beoth glad," quath this procuratour, " and makieth grete 

For ich hit wot ye beoth nou nej the Lond of Biheste." 

rpHO hi come out out of thisdurke mist, and mijte aboute 
I. i-seo, 
XJnder the faireste lond hi come that evere mijte beo ; 
So cler and so li$t hit was, that joye ther was y-nou$, 
Treon ther were ful of frut wel thikke on everech bouj, 
Thikke hit was biset of treon, and the treon thicke bere, 
JHiapplen were ripe y-nou^, ri^t as hit harvest were. 
Fourti dayes aboute this lond hi hem gonne wende, 
Hi ne mi3te fynde in non half of this lond non ende ; 
Hit was evere more dai, hi ne fonde nevere nyat, 
Hi ne wende fynde in no stead so moche cler lijt. 
The eir was evere in o stat, nother hot ne cold, 
Bote the joye that hi fonde ne mai never beo i-told. 
So that hi come to a fair water, hi ne mi^te no3t over wende ; 
Ac over hi n^te the lond i-seo iwt m&o\to. «&3&. 


Appendix. 379 

rpHO cam ther to hem a junglich man, swyse fair and 
1 hende, 

Fairere man ne mi^te beo, that our Loverd hem gan sende. 
He wolcome ech bi his name, and custe hem echon, 
And honurede faire Seint Brendan, and nom him bi the 

hond anon. 
" Lo," he seide, " her is the lond that ye habbeth i-sojt 

And the lengere for oure Loverd wolde that $e schulde abyde, 
For yescholde in the grete see his priveitez i-seo. 
Chargieth joure schip with this frut, for 3c ne mo we no leng 

her beo, 
For thu most to-ward thin owe lond a3e-wardes wende, 
For thu shalt sone out of the wordle, thi lyf is nej than ende. 
This water that ae her i-seoth deleth this lond a-tuo ; 
This half 30U thi^th fair y-nou3, an< ^ thother half also ; 
A 3und half ne mowe 3e come no*t, for hit nis no3t ri^t. 
This frut is evere i-liche ripe, and this lond i-liche li3t. 
And whan oure Loverd ech maner man to him hath i-drawe, 
And ech maner men knoweth him, and beoth under his lawe, 
This lond wole thanne schewe to-ward the wordles ende, 
Hem that beoth him next i-care er hi hunnes wende." 
Seint Brendan and his felawes of this frut nome faste, 
And of preciouse stones, and into here schip caste, 
And faire and wel here leve nome tho this was al i-do, 
And mid wop and deol y-nou3 departede tho a-tuo, 
And wende hem ham-ward in the see, as oure Loverd hem 

And wel rathere come hem horn than hi out-warde wende. 
Here bretheren, tho hi come hom, joyful were y-nou3. 
This holi man Seint Brendan to-ward dethe drou3 ; 
For ever-eft after thulke tyme of the wordle he ne ro3te, 
Bote as a man of tho ther wordle, and as he were in thojte. 
He deide in Irlande after thulke stounde ; 
Meni miracle me hath ther siththe for him i-founde ; 
An abbei ther is arered ther as his bodi was i-do : 
Nou God ous bringe to thulke joye that his soule wende to 


380 Appendix. 


Herb beqynneth the Lyfe op Saynt Brandon. 

Saynt Brandon, the holy man, was a monke, and borne in 
Yrlonde, and there he was abbot of an hous wherein were a 
thousand monkes, and there he ladde a full strayte and holy 
lyfe, in grete penaunce and abstynence, and he governed his 
monkes ful vertuously. And than within shorte tyme after, 
there came to hym an holy abbot that hyght Beryne to 
vysyte hym, and eche of them was joyf ull of other ; and than 
Saynt Brandon began to tell to the abbot Beryne of many 
wonders that he had seen in dy verse londes. And whan 
Beryne herde that of Saynt Brando*, he began to sygh, and 
sore wepte. And Saynt Brandon comforted him the best 
wyse he coude, sayenge, " Ye come hyther for to be joyf ull 
with me, and therefore for Goddes love leve your mournynge, 
and tell me what mervayles ye have seen in the grete see 
occean, that compasseth all the worlde aboute, and all other 
waters comen out of hym, whiche renneth in all the partyes 
of the erth." And than Beryne began to tell to Saynt 
Brandon and to his monkes the mervay lies that he had seen, 
full sore wepynge, and sayd, " I have a sone, his name is 
Mernoke, and he was a monke of grete fame, whiche had 
grete desyre to seke aboute by shyppe in dvverse countrees, 
to fynde a solytary place wherein he myght dwell secretly 
out of the besynesse of the worlde, for to serve God quyetly 
with more devocyon ; and I counseyled hym to sayle into an 
ylonde ferre in the see, besydes the Mountaynes of Stones, 
whiche is ful well knowen, and than he made hym redy, and 
sayled thyder with his monkes. And whan he came thyder- 
he lyked that place full well, where he and his monkes 
served our Lorde full devoutly.'' And than Beryne sawe in 
a visyon that this monke Mernoke was sayled ryght ferre 
eestwarde into the see more than thre dayes saylynge, and 
sodeynly to his semynge there came a derke cloude and 
overcovered them, that a grete parte of the daye they sawe 
no lyght ; and as our Lorde wold, the cloude passed awaye, 
and they sawe. a full fayrylovid^xvdit^d.^wa.rdthey drewe. 

Appendix. 381 

In that ylonde was joye and rayrth ynough, and all the 
erth of that ylonde shyned as bryght as the sonne, and there 
were the fayrest trees and herbes that ever ony man sawe, 
and there were many precyous stones shynynge bryght, and 
every herbe there was ful of flyures, and every tree ful of 
fruyte ; so that it was a glorious sight, and an hevenly joye 
to abyde there. And than there came to them a fayre yonge 
man, and fullcurtoysly he welcomed them all, and called every 
monke by his name, and sayd that they were much bounde to 
prayse the name of our Lorde Jesu, that wold of His grace 
shewe them that glorious place, where is ever day, and never 
night, and this place is called Paradyse Terrestre. But by 
this ylonde is an other ylonde wherein no man may come. 
And this yonge man sayd to them, " Ye have ben here halfe 
a yere without meet, drynke, or slepe." And they supposed 
that they had not ben there the space of half an houre, so 
merry and joyfull they were there. And the yonge man 
tolde them that this is the place that Adam and Eve 
dwelte in fyrst, and ever should have dwelled here, yf that 
they had not broken the commaundement of God. And than 
the yonge man brought them to thyr shyppe agayn, and 
sayd they might no lenger abyde there ; and whan they were 
all shypped, sodeynly this yonge man vanysshed away out 
of thyr sight. And th ;;i within shorte tyme after, by the 
purveyaunce of our Lorue Jesu, they came to the abbey where 
Saint Brandon dwelled, and than he with his bretherne 
receyved them goodly, and demaunded where they had ben 
so longe ; and they sayd, " We have ben in the Londe of 
Byheest, to-fore the gates of Paradyse, where as is ever day, 
and never night. M And they sayd all that the place is full 
delectable, for yet all theyr clothes smelled of the swete and 
joyfull place. And than Saynt Brandon purposed soone 
after for to seke that place by Goddes helpe, and anone 
began to purvey for a good shyppe, and a stronge, and 
vytaylled it for vij. yere : and than he toke his leve of all his 
bretherne, and toke xij. monkes with him. But or they 
entred into the shyppe they fasted xl. dayes, and lyved 
devoutly, and eche of them receyved the Sacrament. And 
whan Saynt Brandon with his xij. monkes were entered into 
the shyppe, there came other two of his monkes, and prayed 
him that they myght sayle with hym. And than he sayd, 
" Ye may sayle with me, but one of you shall go to hell, or 
ye come agayn." But not ior ttiat \ft1er3 \*o\& ^^XObn^ 

382 Appendix. 

And than Saynt Brandon badde the shypmen to wynde 
up the sayle, and forth they sayled in Godaes name, so that 
on the morow they were out of syght of ony londe ; and xl. 
dayes and xl. nightes after they sayled playn eest, and than 
they saw an ylonde ferre fro them, and they sayled thyder- 
warde as fast as they coude, and they sawe a grete roche of 
stone appere above all the water, and thre dayes they sayled 
aboute it or they coude gete into the place. But at the last, 
by the purveyaunce of God, they founde a lyttell haven, and 
there went a-londe everychone, and than sodeynly came a 
fayre hounde, and fell down at the feet of Saynt Brandon, 
and made hym good chere in his maner. And than he badde 
his bretherne, " Be of good chere, for our Lorde hath sent 
to us his messenger, to lede us into some good place.'' And 
the hounde brought them into a fayre hall, where they 
founde the tables spredde redy, set full of good meet and 
drynke. And than Saynt Brandon sayd graces, and than 
he and his bretherne sate down, and ete and dranke of suche 
as they founde ; and there were beddes redy for them, 
wherin they toke theyr rest after theyr longe labour. And 
on the morowe they returned agayne to theyr shyppe, and 
sayled a longe tyme in the see after or they coude fynde 
ony londe, tyll at the last, by the purveyaunce of God, they 
sawe ferre fro them a full fayre ylonde, ful of grene pasture, 
wherein were the whytest and gretest shepe that ever they 
sawe ; for every shepe was as grete as an oxe. And soone 
after came to them a goodly olde man, whiche welcomed 
them, and made them good chere, and sayd, " This is the 
Ylonde of Shepe, and here is never cold weder, but ever 
sommer, and that causeth the shepe to be so grete and 
whyte ; they ete of the best grasse and herbes that is ony 
where." And than this olde man toke his leve of them, and 
bad them sayle* forth ryght eest, and within shorte tyme, 
by Goddes grace, they sholde come into a place lyke para- 
dyse, wherein they shold kepe theyr Eestertyde. 

And than they sayled forth, and came soone after to that 
lond; but bycause of lytell depthe in some place, and in 
some place were grete rockes, but at the last they wente 
upon an ylonde, wenynge to them they had ben safe, and 
made thereon a fyre for to dresse theyr dyner, but Saynt 
Brandon abode sty 11 in the shyppe. And when the fyre was 
ryght bote, and the meet nygh soden, than this ylonde 
began to move ; wheieoi tYifc mox&sfc N*sra aferde, and 

Anpendix. 383 

fledde anone to the shyppe, and lefte the fyre and meet 
behynde them, and mervayled sore of the movyng. And 
Saynt Brandon comforted them, and sayd that it was a 
grete fisshe named Jasconye, whiche laboureth nyght and 
daye to put his tayle in his mouth, but for gretnes he may 
not. And than anone they sayled west thre dayes and 
thre nyghtes or they sawe ony londe, wherfore they were 
ryght hevy. But soone after, as God wold, they sawe a 
fayre ylonde, full of floures, herbes, and trees, whereof they 
thanked God of his good grace, and anone they went on 
londe. And whan they had gone longe in this, they founde 
a ful fayre well, and thereby stood a fayre tree, full of 
bowes, and on every bough sate a fayre byrde, and they 
sate so thycke on the tree that unneth ony lefe of the tree 
myght be seen, the nombre of them was so grete ; and they 
songe so meryly that it was an hevenly noyse to here. 
Wherefore Saynt Brandon kneled down on his knees, and 
wepte for joye, and made his prayers devoutly unto our 
Lord God to knowe what these byrdes ment. And than 
anone one of the byrdes fledde fro the tree to Saynt 
Brandon, and he with flykerynge of his wynges made a full 
rnery noyse lyke a fydle, that hym semed he herde never so 
joyfull a melodye. And than Saynt Brandon commaunded 
the byrde to tell hym the cause why they sate so thycke on 
the tree, and sange so meryly. And fchau the byrde sayd, 
" Somtyme we were aungels in heven, but whan our mayster 
Lucyfer fell down into hell for his hygh pryde, we fell with 
hym for our offences, some hyther and some lower, after 
the qualyt6 of theyr trespace ; and bycause our trepace (sic) 
is but lytell, therefore our Lorde hath set us here out of all 
payne in full grete joye and myrth, after his pleasynge, here 
to serve hym on this tree in the best manner that we can. 
The Sonday is a day of rest fro all worldly occupacyon ; 
and, therefore, that daye all we be made as whyte as ony 
snow, for to prayse our Lorde in the best wyse we may. 
And than this byrde sayd to Saynt Brandon, " It is xij. 
monethes past that ye departed fro your abbey, and in the 
vij. yere hereafter ye shall so the place that ye desyre to 
come, and all this vij. yere ye shal kepe your Eester here 
with us every yere, and in the ende of the vij. yere ye shal 
come into the Londe of Byhest." And this was on Eester 
daye that the byrde sayd these wordes to Saynt Brandon. 
And than this fowle flewe agayn to \\\& iA&^^fc 'O&ak ^^^ *s&. 

384 Appendix. 

the tree. And than all the byrdes began to synge even- 
songe so meryly, that it was an hevenly noyse to here ; and 
after souper Saynt Brandon and his felaweswente to bedde, 
and slepte well, and on the morowe they arose betymes ; 
and than those byrdes began matyns, pryme, and houres, 
and all suche service as Chrysten men use to synge. 

And Saynt Brandon with his felawes abode there viij. 
wekes, tyll Trinity Sunday was past, and they sayled 
agayne to the Ylonde of Shepe, and there they vytayled 
them wel, and syth toke theyr leve of that olde man, and 
returned agayn to shyppe. And than the byrde of the tree 
came agayn to Saynt Brandon, and said, " I am come to 
tell you that ye shall sayle fro hens into an ylonde, wherein 
is an abbey of xxiiij. monkes, whiche is fro this place many 
a myle, and there ye -shall holde your Chrystmasse, and 
your Eester with us, lyke as I tolde you." And than this 
byrde flewe to his felawes agayn. And than Saynt Brandon 
and his felawes sayled forth in the occyan ; and soone after 
fell a grete tempest on them, in whiche they were gretely 
troubled longe tyme, and sore forelaboured. And after that, 
they founde by the purveyaunce of God an ylonde whiche 
was ferre fro them, and than they full mekely prayed to 
our Lord to sende them thyder in safete, but it was xl. 
dayes after or they came thyder, wherefore all the monekes 
were so wery of that trouble that they set lytel price by 
theyr lyves, and cryed contynually to our Lord to have mercy 
on them, and bringe them to that ylonde in safete. And 
by the purveyaunce of God, they came at the last into a 
lytell haven ; but it was so strayte that unneth the shyppe 
might come in. And after they came to an ancre, and 
anone the monkes went to londe, and whan they had longe 
walked about, at the last they founde two fayre welles; 
that one was fayre and clere water, and that other was 
somewhat troubly and thycke. And than they thanked our 
Lorde full humbly that had brought them thyder in safete, 
and they wolde fayne have droken of that water, but 
Saynt Brandon charged them that they sholde take none 
without lycence, " for yf we absteyne us a whyle, our Lord 
wyll purvey for us in the best wyse." And anone after 
came to them a fayre old man, with hoor heer, and welcomed 
them ful mekely, and kyssed Saynt Brandon, and ledde 
them by many a fayre welle tyll fchey came to a fayre abbey, 
where they were receyved with grete honour, and solempne 

Appendix. 385 

processyon, with xxiiij. monkes all in ryal copes of cloth of 
golde, and a ryall crosse was before them. And than the 
abbot welcomed Saynt Brandon and his felawshyp, and 
kyssed them full mekely, and toke Saynt Brandon by the 
hande, and ledde hym with his monkes into a fayre hall, 
and set them downe a-rowe upon the benche ; and the abbot 
of the place wasshed all theyr feet with fayre water of the 
well that they sawe before, and after ladde them into the 
fraytour, and there set them amonge his covent. And 
anone there came one by the purveyaunce of God, which 
served them well of meet and drynke. For every monke 
had set before hym a fayre whyte lofe and whyte rotes and 
herbes, whiche were ryght delycyous, but they wyst not 
what rotes they were ; and they dranke of the water of the 
fayre clere welle that they sawe before whan they came 
fyrst a-londe, whiche Saynt Brandon forbadde them. And 
than the Abbot came and chered Saynt Brandon and his 
monkes, and prayed them to ete and drynke for charit6, 
"for every day our Lorde sendeth a goodly olde man that 
covereth this table, and setteth our meet and drynke to-fore 
us ; but we knowe not how it cometb, ne we'ordeyre never 
no meet ne drynke for us, and yet we have ben lxxx. yere 
here, and ever our Lorde (worshipped mote be he !) fedeth 
us. We ben xxiiij. monkes in nombre, and every feryall 
day of the weke he sendeth to us xij. loves, and every 
Sondaye and feestful day xxiiij loves, and the breed that 
we leve at dyner we ete at souper. And no we at your 
comynge our Lorde hath sente to us xlviij. loves, for to 
make you and us mery togyder as brethern, and alwaye xij. 
of us go to dyner, whyles other xij. kepe the quere ; and 
thus have we done this lxxx. yere, for so longe have we 
dwelled here in this abbey ; and we came hyther out of the 
abbey of Saynt Patrykes in Yrelonde ; and thus, as ye se, 
our Lorde hath purveyed for us; but none of us knoweth 
how it cometh, but God alone, to whome be gyven honouy 
and laude worlde without ende. And here in this londe in 
ever fayre weder, and none of us hath ben syke syth w 
we came hyther. And whan we go to Masse, or to on 
other servyce of our Lord in the chirche, anone seve 
tapers of waxe been set in the quere, and ben lyght at 
every tyme without mannes hande, and so brenne daye 
and nyght at every houre of servyce, and never waste tve 
nrynysshe as longe as we havebeen\\e«fe,^\^^\^Vn^^^K^» ,,> 

386 Appendix. 

And than Saynt Brandon wente to the chirche with the j 
abbot of the place, and there they sayd evensonge togyder 
fall devoutly. And than Saynt Brandon loked up- ward to- 
warde the Crucifyxe, and sawe our Lorde hangynge on the 
crosse, which was made of fyne cristal and curyously 
wrought; and in the quere were xxiiij. setes for xxiiij. 
monkes, and the vij. tapers brennynge, and the abbottes 
sete was made in the myddes of the quere. And than 
Saynt Brandon demanded of the abbot how longe they had 
kepte that scylence that none of them spake to other/ 1 
And he sayd, " This xxiiij, yere we spake never one to 
another/ 1 And than Saynt Brandon wepte for joye of theyr 
holy conversation. And than Saynt Brandon desyred of 
the abbot that he and his monkes might dwell there styll 
with hym. To whom the abbot sayd, " Syr, that may ye 
not do in no wyse, for our Lorde hath shewed to you in 
what maner ye shall be guyded tyll the vij. yere be fulfylled, 
and after that terme thou shalte with thy monkes returne 
into Yrlonde in safety ; but on of the two monkes that 
came last to you shall dwell in the Ylonde of Ankers, and 
that other shall go quycke to hell. And as Saynt Brandon 
kneled in the chirche, he sawe a bryght shynynge aungell 
come in at the wyndowe, and lyghted all the lyghtes in the 
chirche, and than he flewe out agayn at the wyndowe unto 
heven ; and than Saynt Brandon mervayled gretly how the 
lyght brenned so fayre and wasted not. And than the 
abbot sayd that it is wryten that Moyses sawe a busshe all 
on a fyre, and yet it brenned not, " and therefore mervayle 
not thereof, for the myght of our Lorde is now as grete as 
ever it was/' 

And whan Saynt Brandon had dwelled there fro Chryst- 
masse even tyll the xij. daye was passed, than he toke his 
leve of the abbot and covent, and returned with his monkes 
to his shyppe, and sayled fro thens with his monkes to- 
warde the abbey of Saynt Hylaryes, but they had grete 
tempestes in the see fro that time tyll Palme Sondaye 
And than they came to the Ylonde of Shepe, and there 
were receyved of the olde man, whiche brought them to a 
fayre hall and served them. And on Sher-Thursdaye after 
souper he wasshed theyr feet, and kyssed them, lyke as our 
Lorde dyd to his disciples, and there abode tyll Saturdaye, 
Eester even, and than they departed, and sayled to the 
place where the grete lyases \fc^, axv& umka >8ae<j w^ 

Appendix. 387 

theyr caudron upon the fysshes backe whiche they had left 
there xij. monethes to-fore, and there they kepte theservyce 
of the resurreccyon on the fysshes backe ; and after they 
sayled the same daye by the mornynge to the ylonde where 
as the tree of byrdes was, and than the sayd byrde welcomed 
Saynt Brandon and all his felawshyp, and went agayn 
to the tree, and sang full meryly. And there he and his 
monkes dwelled fro Eester tyll Trynite Sondaye, as they 
dyd the yere before, in full grete joye and ^yrth ; and dayly 
they herde the mery servyce of the byrdes syttynge on the 
tree. And than the byrde tolde to Saynt Brandon that he 
sholde returne agayne at Chrystmasse to the abbey of 
monkes, and at Eester thyder agayn, and the other dele of 
the yere labour in the occean in full grete perylles, " and 
fro yere to yere tyll the vij. yere ben accomplysshed, and 
than shall ye come to the joyfull place of Paradyse, and 
dwell there xl. daye in full grete joye and myrth ; and after j^ u > 
ye shall returne home into your owne abbey in safet6, and^V*^ 
there end your lyf, and come to the blysse of heven, tc\\^ •>* 
whiche our Lorde bought you with his precyous blode.'\. r ^ r 
And than the aungell of oure Lorde ordeyned all thynge 
that was nedefull to Saynt Brandon and to his monkes, in 
vytayles and all other thynges necessary. And than they 
thanked our Lorde of nis grete goodnes that he had 
showed to them ofte in theyr grete nede, and than sayled 
forth in the grete see occean abydynge the mercy of our 
Lord in grete trouble and tempestes, and soone after came 
to them an horryble fysshe, which folowed the shyppe long 
tyme, castynge so moche water out of his mouth into the 
shyppe, that they supposed to have ben drowned. Where- 
fore they devoutly prayed to God to delyver them of that 
grete peryll. And anone after came an other fysshe, greter 
than he, out of the west see, and faught with him, and at 
the laste clave hym in thre places, and than returner 
agayne. And than they thanked mekely our Lord of theye 
delyveraunce fro this grete peryll ; but they were in gretd 
hevynesse, because theyr vytayles were nygh spente. But, 
by the ordynaunce of our Lorde, there came a byrde, and 
brought to them a grete braunche of a vine, full of reed 
grapes, by whiche they lyved xiflj dayes ; and than they 
came to a lytell ylonde, wherein were many vynes full of 
grapes, and they there londed, and thanked God, and ^adted 
as many grapes as they lyved \yy *\. fa^** *i\«^*fc*v^ 

388 Appendix. 

saylynge in the see in many a storme and tempest. And 
as they thus sayled, sodeynly came fleynge towarde 
them a grete grype, which assayled them, and was lyke to 
have destroyed them ; wherefore they devoutly prayed for 
helpe and ayde of our Lord Jesu Chryst. And than the 
byrde of the tree of the ylonde where they had holden 
theyr Eester to-fore came to the grype, and smote out both 
his eyen, and after slewe hym ; wherof they thanked our 
Lorde, and than sayled forth contynually tyll Saynt Peters 
daye, and than songen they solempnely theyr servyce in 
the honour of the feest. And in that place the water was 
so clere, that they myght se all the fysshes that were aboute 
them, whereof they were full sore agast, and the monkes 
counseyled Saint Brandon to synge no more, for all the 
fysshes lay than as they had slepte. And than Saynt 
Brandon sayd, " Drede ye not, for ye have kepte by two 
Eesters the feest of the resurrection upon the grete fysshes 
backe, and therefore dread ye not*jf these lytel fysshes." 
And than Saynt Brandon made hym redy, and wente to 
masse, and badde his monkes to synge the best wyse they 
coude. And than anone all the fysshes awoke, and came 
about the shippe so thicke, that unneth they myght se the 
water for the fysshes. And whan the Masse was done, all 
the fysshes departed, so that they were no more seen. 

And seven dayes they sayled alwaye in that clere water. 
And than there came a south wynde, and drove the shyppe 
north-warde, where as they sawe an ylonde full derke and 
full of stenche and smoke ; and there they herde grete 
blowynge and blastyng of belowes, but they myght se no 
thynge, but herde grete thondrynge, whereof they were sore 
aferde and blyssed them ofte. And soone after there came 
one stertynge out all brennynge in iyre, and stared full 
gastly on them with grete staryng eyen, of whom the 
monkes were agast, and at his depart yng from them he 
made the horryblest crye that myght be herde. And soone 
there came a grete nombre of fends, and assayled them with 
hokes and brennynge yren malles, whiche ranne on the 
water, folowyng fast theyr shyppe, in suche wyse that it 
semed all the see to be on a fyre ; but by the wyll of God 
they had no power to hurte ne to greve them, ne theyr 
shyppe. Wherfore the fendes began to rore and crye, and 
threwe theyr hokes and malles at them. And they than 
were sore aferde, and prayed, to dod \<^ wrc&^te and helpe ; 

Appendix. 389 

for they sawe the fendes all about the shyppe.. and them 
semed that all the ylonde and the see to be on a fyre. And 
with a sorowfull crye all the fendes departed fro them, and 
returned to the place that they came fro. And than Saynt 
Brandon tolde to them that this was a parte of hell ; and 
therefore he charged them to be stedfast in the fayth, for 
they shold yet se many a dredefull place or they came home 
agayne. And than came the south wynde and drove them 
ferther into the north, where they sawe an hyll all on fyre, 
and a foule smoke and stenche comyng from thens, and the 
fyre stode on eche syde of the hyll, lyke a wall all bren- 
nynge. And than one of his monkes began to crye and 
wepe ful sore, and sayd that his ende was comen, and that 
he might abyde no lenger in the shyppe, and an one he lepte 
out of the shyppe into the see, and than he cryed and rored 
full pyteously, cursynge the tyme that he was borne, and 
also fader and moder that bygate him, by cause they sawe 
no better to his correccyon in his yonge age, " for now I 
must go to perpetual payne." And than the sayenge of 
Saynt Brandon was veryfyed that he sayd to hym whan he 
entred into the shyppe. Therfore it is good a man to do J^\ 
penaunce and forsake synne, for the houre of deth is 

And than anone the wynde turned into the north, and 
drove the shyppe into the south, whiche sayled vij. dayes 
contynually ; and they came to a grete rock standynge in 
the see, and theron sate a naked man, in full grete mysery 
and payne ; for the waves of the see had so beten his body 
that all the flesshe was gone of, and nothynge lefte but 
synewes and bare bones. And whan the wawes were gone, 
there was a canvas that henge over his heed whiche bette 
his body full sore with the blowynge of the wynde ; and 
also there were two oxe tongues, and a grete stone that he 
sate on, which dyd hym full grete ease. And than Saynt 
Brandon charged hym to tell hym what he was. And he 
sayd, " My name is Judas, that solde our Lorde Jesu 
Chryst for xxx pens, which sytteth here moche wretchedly ; 
how be it I am worthy to be in the gretest payne that is ; 
but our Lorde is so mercyfull that he hath rewarded me 
better than I have deserved, for of ryght my place is in the 
brennynge hell ; but I am here but certayne tymes of the 
yere, that is, fro Chrystmasse to twelfth daye, and iro 
Eester tyll Whytsontyde be past, atv9i ^nstj te^Vx^^a^^ 

390 Appendix. 

our Lady, and every Saterdaye at noone tyll Sonday that 
evensonge be done ; but all other tymes I lye styll in hell in 
full brennynge fyre with Pylate, Herode, and Cayphas; 
therefore accursed be the tyme that ever I knewe them." 
And than Judas prayed Saynt Brandon to abyde styll there 
all that nyght, and that he wolde kepe hym there styll that 
the fendes sholde not fetche hym to hell. And he sayd, 
" With Goddes helpe thou shalt abyde here all this nyght." 
And than he asked Judas what cloth that was that henge 
over his heed. And he sayd it was a cloth that he gave 
unto a lepre, whiche was bought with the money that he 
stale fro our Lorde whan he bare his purse " wherefore it 
dothe to me grete payne now in betyng my face with the 
blowynge of the wynde ; and these two oxe tongues that 
hange here above me, I gave them somtyme to two preestes 
to praye for me. I bought them with myne owne money, 
and therefore they ease me, bycause the fysshes of the sea 
knawe on them and spare me. And this stone that I syt 
on laye somtyme in a desolate place where it eased no man ; 
and I toke it thens and layd it in a foule waye, where it dyd 
muche ease to them that wont by that waye, and therefore 
it easeth me now ; for every good dede shall be rewarded, 
and every evyll dede shal be punysshed." And the Sondaye 
agaynst even there came a grete multitude of fendes blastyng 
and rorynge, and badde Saynt Brandon go thens, that they 
myght have theyr servaunt Judas, " for we dare not come 
in the presence of our mayster, but yf we brynge hym to 
hell with us." And St. Brandon sayd, " I lette not you do 
your maysters commaundement, but by the power of our 
Lorde Jesu Chryst I charge you to leave hym this nyght 
tyll to morow." " How darest thou helpe hym that so sold 
his mayster for xxx. pens to the Jewes, and caused hym 
also to dye the 'vuoost shamefull deth upon thecrosse?" 
And than Saynt Brandon charged the fendes by his passyon 
that they sholde not noy hym that nyght. And than the 
fendes went theyr way rorynge and cryenge towarde hell to 
theyr mayster, the grete devyll. And than Judas thanked 
Saynt Brandon so rewfully that it was pite to se, and on 
the morowe the fendes came with an horryble noyse, 
sayenge that they had that nyght suffred grete payne 
because they brought not Judas, and said that he should 
sufTre double payne the sixe dayes folowynge. And they 
toke than Judas tremblynge (ox fe\:e \\ T \tA\ them to payne. 

Appendix. 391 

And after Saynt Brandon sayled south-warde thre dayes 
and thre nyghtes, and on the Frydaye they sawe an ylonde,. 
and than Saynt Brandon began to sygh and saye, " I se 
the ylonde wherin Saynt Poule the heremyte dwelleth, and 
hath dwelled there xl. yere, without meet and drynke 
ordeyned by mannes hande." And whan they came to the 
londe, Saynt Poule came and welcomed them humbly. He 
was olde and for-growen, so that no man myght se his body, 
of whom Saynt Brandon sayd weepyng, "Now I se a man 
that lyveth more like an aungell than a n»an. wherfore we 
wretches may be ashamed that we lyve not better/' Than 
Saynt Poule sayd to Saynt Brandon, " Thou art better than 
I ; for our Lord hath shewed to the more of his prevytees 
than he hath done to me, wherfore thou oughtest to be more 
praysed than I." To whome Saynt Brandon sayd, " We 
ben monkes, and must labour for our meet, but God hath 
provyded for the suche meet as thou holdest the pleased, 
wherfore thou art moche better than I." To whom Saynt 
Poule sayd, " Sometime I was a monke of Saynt Patrykes 
abbey in Yrelonde, and was wardeyn of the place where as 
men entre into Saynt Patrikes purgatory. And on a day 
there came one to me, and I asked hym what he was, and 
he sayd I am your abbot Patryke, and charge the that thou 
departe from hens to morowe erly to the see syde, and there 
thou shalt fynde a shyppe, into the which th6u must entre, 
whiche God hath ordeyned for the, whose wyll thou must 
accomplysshe. And so the nexte daye I arose and went 
forth and founde the shyppe, in whiche I entred, and by the 
purveyaunce of God I was brought into this ylonde the 
seventh daye after, and than I lefte the shyppe and went to 
londe, and there I walked up and downe a good whyle, and 
than by the purveyaunce of God there came an otter goynge 
on his hynder feet, and brought me a flynte stone, and an 
yren to smyte fyre with, in his two fore clawes of his feet ; 
and also he had about his necke grete plente of fysshes, 
which he cast down before me and went his waye ; and I 
smote fyre, and made a fyre of styckes, and dyd sethe the 
fysshe, by which I lyved thre dayes. And than the otter 
came agayn, and brought me fysshe for other thre dayes ; 
and thus he hath done li. yere, through the grace of God. 
And there was a great stone, out of whiche our Lord made 
to sprynge fayre water, clere and swete, wherof I drynke 
dayly. And thus have I lyved this li. yere ; and I was 

392 Appendix. 

lx. yere olde whan I came hyther, and am now an hondred 
and xi. yere olde, and abyde tyll it please our Lorde to sende 
for me ; and if it pleased hym, I wolde fayne be discharged 
of this wretched lyfe." And than he bad Saynt Brandon to 
take of the water of the welle, and to carry it into his 
shyppe, " for it is tyme that thou departe, for thou hast a 
grete journey to do ; for thou shalt sayle to an ylonde which 
is xl. dayes saylyng hens, where thou shalt holde thyn Eester 
lyke as thou hast done to-fore, wher as the tree of byrdes is. 
And fro thens thou shalte sayle into the Londe of Byheest, 
and shalt abyde there xl. dayes, and after returne home into 
thy countree in safety." And than these holy men toke 
leve eche of other, and they wepte bothe full sore, and kyssed 
eche other. 

And than Saynt Brandon entred into his shyppe, and 
sayled xl. dayes even southe, in full grete tempest. And on 
Eester even came to theyr procuratour, whiche made to 
them good chere, as he had before tyme. And from thens 
they came to the grete fysshe, where they sayd matyns and 
masse on Eester daye. And whan the masse was done, the 
fysshe began to meve, and swamme forth fast into the see, 
whereof the monkes were sore agast. which stode upon hym, 
for it was a grete mervayle to se suche a fysshe as grete as 
all a countree for to swymme so fast in the water ; but by 
the wyll of our Lorde God this fysshe set all the monkes 
a-londe in the Paradise of Byrdes all hole and sounde, and 
than returned to the place that he came fro. And than 
Saynt Brandon and his monkes thanked our Lorde God of 
theyr delyveraunce of the grete fysshe, and kepte theyr 
Eestertyde tyll Trinite Sondaye, lyke as they had done 
before tyme. And after this they toke theyr shyppe and 
sayled eest xl. dayes, and at the xl. dayes ende it began to 
hayle ryght fast, and therwith came a derke myst, whiche 
lasted longe after, whiche fered Saynt Brandon and his 
monkes, and prayed to our Lord* to kepe and helpe them. 
And than anone came theyr procuratour, and badde them to 
be of good chere, for they were come into the Londe of 
Byheest. And soon after that myst passed awaye, and 
anone they sawe the fayrest countree eestwarde that ony 
man myght se, and was so clere and bryght that it was an 
hevenly syght to beholde ; and all the trees were charged 
with rype fruyte and herbes full of floures; in whiche 
Jonde they walked xl. dayes, but ^^ r coude se none ende of 

Appendix. 393 

that londe ; and there was alwaye daye and never nyght, 
and the londe attemperate ne to hote ne to colde. And at 
the last they came to a ryver, but they durst not go over. 
And there came to them a fayre yonge man, and welcomed 
them curtoysly, and called each of them by his name, and 
dyd grete reverence to Saynt Brandon, and sayd. to them, 
4 ' Be ye now joyfull, for this is the londe that ye have sought; 
but our Lorde wyll that ye departe hens hastely, and he wyll 
shewe to you more of his secretes whan ye come agayn into 
the see ; and our Lorde wyll that ye lade your shyppe with 
the friiyte of this londe, and hye you hens, for you may no 
lenger abyde here, but thou shalt sayle agayne into thyne 
owne countree, and soone after thou comest home thou shalt 
dye. And this water that thou seest here departeth the 
worlde asondre ; for on that other syde of the water may no 
man come that is in this lyfe. And the fruyte that ye se is 
alwaye thus rype every tyme of the yere, and alwaye it is 
here lyght as ye now se ; and he that kepeth our Lordes 
hestes at all tymes shall se this londe, or he passe out of this 
worlde." And than Saynt Brandon and his monkes toke of 
that fruyte as much as they wolde, and also toke with them 
grete plente of precyous stones ; and than toke theyr leve 
and went to shyppe, wepynge sore bycause they myght no 
lenger abyde there. And than they toke theyr shvppe, and 
came home into Yrelonde in safety, whome theyr bretherne 
receyved with grete joye, gyvynge thankynges to our Lorde, 
whiche had kepte them all those seven yere fro many a 
peryll, and brought them home in safete, to whome be gyven 
honour and glory worlde withouten ende. Amen. And soone 
after, this holy man Saynt Brandon wexed feble and seke, 
and had but lytell joye of this world, but ever after his joye 
and mynde was in the joyes of heven. And in shorte tyme 
after, he, beynge full of vertues, departed out of this lyfe 
unto everlastyng lyfe, and was worshypfully buryed in a 
fayre abbey, which he hym selfe founded, where our Lorde 
sheweth for this holy saynt many fayre mvracles. Wherfore 
let us devoutly praye to this holy saynt that he praye for us 
unto our Lord, that he have mercy on us, to whom be gyven 
laude, honour, and empyre, world wifchouten ende. Amen. 

394 Appendix. 


Page 1, line 1. — The name is spelt diversely in the different 
MSS., Brendan and Brandan. The commencement of our 
English poem agrees closely with that of the prose English 
version nere printed, but they differ very much from the 
original Latin, and all the other versions, which give a more 
exact account of the family of the saint. " Sanctus 
Brendanus, Alius Finlocha, nepotis Alti de genere Eogeni, e 
stagnile regione Mimensium ortus fait." 

P. 1, 1. 4. — A thousend monekes.'] So the English prose 
version. The original Latin, and all the other versions, say 
three thousand. 

L. 6. — Barint.] The Latin calls him Barintus, nepos 
Neil regis. In the Prose Life he is corruptly called 

P. 2, 1. 5. — Mernoc] The Trin. Col. MS. reads Menrok. 
The prose version, probably by a mere error of the printer, 
calls him Meruoke. 

P. 2, 1. 5. — Mountayne of Stedes.] MS. Trin. The Latin 
text h&sjuxta Montem Lapidis. 

P. 2, 1. 23. — Am lond.] The Tr. C. MS. reads a nywe 

P. 3, 1. 6. — A yung man.'] The original Latin, and the 
versions made immediately from it, have only quidam vir, 
without saying anything of his youth. 

P. 4, 1. 4. — The Trin. Col. MS. reads, agen — ward he 
wende tlw> and that. 

P. 4, 1. 13. — Smyl] MS. Tr. C. reads smelh. 

P. 4, 1. 14. — In thogt lie stod, MS. Tr. C. This MS. adds 
after this line the following, which is evidently omitted in 
our text — He thogt fondy ther-of yf hit were Godes 

* The references in those Notes are to the pages in the "Percy 
Society " edition, from which this has been printed. As the words of the 
text to which the Notes apply, are here given, the reader can easily find 
the references in our text. 

Appendix. 395 

P. 4, 1. 17. — We should probably read Thuse tuelve, as 
the line seems as present imperfect. MS. Tr. C. has Thes 
twelve he clyped to consail. There are also evidently two 
lines omitted in our text, which should form the commence- 
ment of St Brandan's address to his monks, and which stand 
thus in the Tr. C. MS. : — 

u Ich thynche to a prive thyng, ther-of ye mote me rede, 
To seche the Lond of Byheste, if oure Lord wole me 
thuder lede. ,, 

The omission has arisen from the number of consecutive 
rhymes. In the English prose version the preparations for 
voyage are told more briefly. 

P. 5, 1. 5. — The Tr. C. MS. reads, Hu leten make a stronge 
schij). The Latin text differs here from our narrative. 
"Transactis jam quadraginta diebus, et salutatis fratribus 
accomendatis praeposito monasterii Sin, qui fuit postea 
successor in eodem loco, profectus est contra occidentalem 
plagam cum quatuordecim fratribus adinsulam cujusdam 
sancti patris nomine Aende. Ibi demoratus est tribus 
diebus et tribus noctibus. Post haee, accepta benedictiohe 
sancti patris et omnium monachorum qui cum eo erant, 
profectus est in ultimam partem regionis suae, ubi demora- 
bantur parentes ejus. Attamen nobuit illos videre, sed 
cujusdam summitatem montis extendentis se in oceanum, 
in loco qui dicitur Brendani Sedes, ascendit, ibique fuit 
tentorium suum, ubi erat et introitus unius navis. Sanctus 
Brendanus et qui cum eo erant, acceptis ferramentis, fecerunt 
naviculam levissimam, costatam et columnatam ex vimine, 
sicut mos est in illis partibus, et cooperuerunt earn coriis 
bovinis ac rubricatis in cortice roborina, linieruntque foris 
omnes juncturas navis, et expendia quadraginta dierum 
et butirum ad pelles praeparandas assumpserunt ad co- 
operimentum navis, et caetera utensilia quae ad usum vitea 
humanaB pertinent. Arborem posuerunt in medio navis 
fixum, et velum, et caetera quae ad gubernationem navis 

This is a curious description of a very primitive ship. 

P. 6, 1. 4. — An hulle at the laste.] MS. Tr. C. 

P. 6, 1. 8. — Hu weride aboute as moppysche men that nuste 
wer hu were, MS. Tr. C. 

P. 6, 1. 13. — To an halle.] The Latin has^-" usque ad 
unum oppidum, intrantes autera v\&fctvtt&^\^mm*>^^ 

396 Appendix. 

In the early French version it is— "It sivirent le chien dusques 
an chastel. Dont enterent en i. chastel, et virent une 
grande sale." The English versions omit the incident of one 
of the two monk3 who followed St. Brandan voluntarily, 
who stole a bridle of silver from the hall, and died and was 
buried in the island. 

P. 7, 1. 7. — The Island of Sheep, answering closely to this 
description, is described by some of the Arabian geographers 
as existing in the Western Ocean. 

P. 8, 1. 7. — Eyre.'] MS. Tr. C, which adds after this line, 
the two following : — 

" And here wey to here schyp eche after other norae, 
God hym thogt levyste was that sonest thyder come." 

P. 8, 1. 16. — Jascom.'] The MS. Tr. C. reads Jastoyn ; 
the Latin has Jasconius. It has been already observed in 
the preface, that the incident of the great fish is founded in 
the Arabian voyages of Sinbad. The existence of this great 
fish was a very popular legend in the middle ages ; it was 
doubtless the Craken of the north. In the mediaeval bestiaries 
it is sometimes identified with the whale. The story is the 
subject of an Anglo-Saxon poem in the Exeter MS. 
Philippe de Phaun gives the same incident in a few lines ; 
adding that the fish, before rising to the surface, throws the 
sand of the sea on its back, which gives it still more the 
appearance of land : — 

" Cetus ceo est mult grant beste, tut tens en mer converse; 
Le Sablun de mer prent, sur son dos Testent, 
Sur mer s'esdrecerat, en pais si esterat. 
Li notuners la veit, quide que ille sait, 
Hoc vait ariver sun cunrei aprester. 
Li balain le fu sent e la nef e la gent ; 
Lores se plungerat, si il pot, si's neierat." 

" Cetus is a very great beast, which lives always in the 
sea ; it takes the sand of the sea, spreads it on its back, 
raises itself up in the sea, and will lie without motion. The 
seafarer sees it, thinks that it is an island, lands there to 
prepare his meal. The whale feels the fire and the ship 
and the people; then he will plunge, and drown them, if he 

See also the account of this monster ^wen in the early 

Appendix. 397 

English metrical bestiary, printed in the Beliquia Antiqued, 
vol. i., page 220. 
P. 9, 1. 9.— The Tr. C. MS. reads :— 

" Tho fley ther up a litel foule, and toward hym gan te, 
As a fythele his wingen ferd tho he bygan to fle." 

P. 9, 1. 16. — This notion relating to the distribution of 
the fallen angels, according to the degree in which they had 
participated in Lucifer's crime, was very general in the 
middle ages. I have collected together from old writers some 
extracts on this subject in my essay on "St Patrick's 
Purgatory " (page 90). In the Latin text of our legend the 
bird says: — "Nos sumus de magna ilia ruina antiqui hostis ; 
sed non peccando aut consentiendo sumus lapsi, sed Dei 
pietate praedestinati, nam ubi sumus creati, per lapsum istius 
cum suis satellibus contigit nostra ruina. Deus autem 
omnipotens, qui Justus est et verax, suo judicio misit nos in 
istum locum. Pcenas non sustinemus. Praesentiam Dei ex 
parte non videre possumus, tantum alienavit nos consortio 
illorum qui steterunt. Vagamur per diversas partes hujus 
saeculi, aeris et firmamenti et terrarum, sicut et alii spiritus 
qui mittuntur. Sed in Sanctis diebus dominicis accipimus 
corpora talia quae tu vides, et per Dei dispensationem 
commoramur hie et 1 vidamus creatorem nostrum." 

P. 11, 1.8. — Abbey.) Insulani quae vocatur Ailbey. Text. 

P. 12, 1. 3. — Thother wori.~\ unus turbidus. Text. Lat. 

P. 13, 1. 5. — White inoresJ] The Latin text has — Et 
quibusdam radicibus incredibilis saporis. 

P. 14, 1. 1. — Seint Alvey.~\ Et Sancti Ailbei. Text. Lat. 

P. 14, 1. 15. — Weved.~\ An altar. In the next line MS. 
Tr. C. reads, weved, chalys, and croeses. Erant enim attaria 
de cristallo. Calices et patenae, urceoli, et caetera vasa quae 
pertinebant ad cultum divinum itidem ex cristallo erant. 
Text. Lat. 

P. 15, 1. 13. — Ylle ofankres.] I.e., the isle of hermits, or 
anchorites. MS. Tr. C. reads, Yle of auntres. De duobus 
vero qui supersunt, unus peregrinabitur in insula quae vocatur 
Anachoritalis ; porro alter morte pessima condempnabitur 
apud inferos. Text. Lat. 

P. 15, 1. 15. — A furi arewe.'] Sagitta ignea. Text. Lat. 
The prose English version has misread Angel for Arrow. 

P. 16, I 5. — MidewynterJ\ I\> \& \rcftuvQ& Vw^ \sfeRR»r 

398 Appendix. 

sary to observe that this is the Anglo-Saxon name for 

P. 16, 1. 16. — Fowolen Parays.] Insula quae vocatur 
Paradisus Avium. Text. Lat. A curious incident of the 
Latin legend, where the monks were made ill by drinking 
water in another island, is omitted in the English. 

P. 15, 1. 18. — Scher-thursdai.'] Shere Thursday, or 
Maunday Thursday, is the Thursday before Easter, when it 
was the custom to wash each other's feet in imitation of 
Christ, which ceremony was called his mandt (or command- 
ment), whence is derived one of the names given . to the 

P. 17, 1. 25. — Ymonc.'] The Tr. C. MS. reads echon. 

P. 19, 1. 15. — Afingred."] I.e., hungry. See the Glossary to 
Piers Ploiighman. In the original Latin text the monks are 
twice exposed to extreme hunger, and on the first occasion 
relieve themselves by eating of the flesh of the beast which 
had been kilkd. Several incidents in this part of the 
original story are omitted in the English version. It would 
appear also that in the Latin legend the great beast which 
had been killed was the same on whose back they had lit 
the fire, for Brandan says to them when they express their 
fear of the fishes they saw asleep at the bottom of the sea : 
— " Cur timetis istas bestias ? Nonne omnium bestiarum 
maxima devorata est ? Sedentes vos et psallentes saepe in 
dorso ejus fuistis, et silvam scindistis, et ignem accendistis, 
et carnem ejus coxistis." 

P. 22, 1. 2. — For a full illustration of the notions relating 
to hell and paradise contained in the latter part of this 
legend, I would refer the reader to the materials I have 
collected in the essay on " St. Patrick's Purgatory." 

P. 23, 1. 8. — n )mbesas.'] A term in the game of dice, 
frequently used in mediaeval writers, which shows the great 
prevalence of gambling in the middle ages. 

P. 26, 1. 7. — And owe Lovcrdes pans ber.] It was a 
prevalent notion in the middle ages that Judas was the 
purse-bearer of Christ and His disciples, and that his avarice 
and dishonesty was partly the cause of his ruin. A curious 
early fragment on this subject is printed in the Beliquia 
Antiqua, vol. i., page 144. In the Chester Mysteries he 
is made to take offence at the extravagance of the Magdalene 
in lavishing so much money on a pot of ointment. In the 
Latin text of the legend oiSt.I^cfc^&Ti^x^V^^ 

Appendix. 399 

as having been the Chamberlain of the Saviour: "quando fui 
camerarius Domini." In the French version it is : " Quand je 
fui Cambrelens meen Signeur." 

P. 30, 1. 11. — The Latin text gives his age somewhat 
differently. " Nonagenarius enim sum in hac insula, et 
triginta annis in victu piscium, et sexaginta in victu illius 
fontis, et quinquaginta fui in patria mea ; omnes enim anni 
vitae meae sunt centum quinquaginta." 

P. 34, 1. 11. — An abbeiJ] This abbey >vas Cluain-fert or 
Clonfert, in the county of Galway, where it is pretended 
that St. Brandan was buried in the year 576. (See Archdall, 
Monast Hibern, page 278), 

P. 36, 1. 11. — In a visyon.] The prose version is here 
rather confused, and the writer appears unintentionally to 
have overlooked part of the original. It would seem here 
as though the voyage of Barintus was nothing more than a 
vision, which certainly was not the writer's meaning. 




NOW READY. Pcap. 8vo., Cloth, 3s. 6d. 










BLANAID: and other Poems. 


"Mr. T. D. Sullivan may be congratulated, without hesitation 
or reserve, on his success in rendering the old Irish tales into 
English verse. As to the literary value of the Gaelic originals we 
are not competent to speak. But that the version before ns is 
remarkable for melody, and beauty, and force, no one who reads it 
• carefully will be at all inclined to question." — The Literary World. 

"Mr. Sullivan's Irish historical and legendary poems are very 
readable. Mr. Sullivan at his best has much of Scott's narrative 
strength. . . . "The Voyage of tho ^Corras" reminds us of 
Dunbar's great poem, "The. Dance of the Seven Deadly Sins." 
Ossian's visit to the Land of Touth is a splendid poetical subject, 
and Mr. Sullivan, on the whole, is equal to it. Sasseuachs will be 
grateful for an attractive presentation of interesting legends with 
which Mr. Sullivan has helped to make us familiar." — Tlie Speaker. 

" Mr. T. D. Sullivan has done good service to the cause of Irish 
literature by collecting his renderings of old Irish tales into English 
verse. . . . It is a noble work to perpetuate the too scanty 
remains of our original poetry and to present them in a suitable 
manner for modern readers. This Sir Samuel Ferguson did 
with conspicuous success, and now Mr. T. D. Sullivan offers us 
towards the same end a bright and welcome volume of translations 
from the Grolic. . . We can only in conclusion express our 

desire that Mr. Sullivan's volume will have a circulation in some way 
commensurate with its sterling merits." — Freeman's Journal. 

"Mr. Sullivan shows himself a very capable translator. His 
diction is pointed and graphic, and he shows his proper appreciation 
of the legends by rendering them in the simplest forms of verse. 
In the more impassioned scenes he rises to a dignified but never 
inflated style of language, and in his most simple narration he is 
always pointed and interesting. The book is a most acceptable 
addition to the by no means too large store of Irish legendary 
poetry." — North British Daily Mail. 

" Mr. T. D. Sullivan's return to the pleasant but neglected fields 
of Gaelic Jegend for the matter ot n\a moAam taM&da is more than 


justified by the result. We have to thank him for an easy, melodious, 
simple rendering of some of the choicest, most pathetic, and most 
characteristic stories left to us by the old bards." — National Press. 

"In this volume the Member for Dublin has translated into 
strong and vigorous English verse the old Irish legends whioh deal 
with the heroes Cuchullin and Ossian, the love-story of Ailleen and 
Bailie, and the conversion to Christianity of the O'Corras and King 
Connor Mac Nessa." — Review of Reviews. 

"The subjects of these stories are in the main connected with 
ancient Irish legends, and they have the true stamp of fancy, 
simplicity, and weird grace proper to the efforts of the Gaelic muse. 
Mr. Sullivan's verses are characterised by easy melody, and he has 
on the whole preserved the spirit and form of the historio ballad." — 
Newcastle Daily Leader. 

" The contents of the little volume before us form a valuable 
addition, and in a pleasing form too, to our folk lore. In his treat- 
ment of the subject chosen the author exhibits all the qualities 
which have made his lyrics known and welcome wherever an Irishman 
is to be found." — Belfast Morning News. 

" This little volume of Irish historical and legendary poems from 
the Geelic will be welcome in England to all who take an interest in 
Ireland, its history, and its people. . . . Mr. Sullivan has caught 
the spirit of those fine > l .'l romances, and in his mellifluous, graceful 
verse, they will find a happy entrance into many a heart." — Northamp. 
ton Mercury. 

" In Mr. Sullivan's new volume there is a charm and sweetness 
and simplicity in the domestic passages most winning and delightful. 
. . . . Ferketne's song of mourning is touching and tender, and 
there is in it that strange incommunicable melody of Irish pathos 
and poetry to which Mr. Swinburne aud Mr. Matthew Arnold direct 
attention." — Manchester Guardian. 

" Mr. T. D. Sullivan has never put from his always busy hand 
more worthy work than that which lies between the covers of the 
dainty little volume which, under the title of " Blanaid, and other 
Poems," Messrs. Eason & Son have just published." — Irish Catholic. 

"Mr. Sullivan has done his work well. Smoothness of rhythm 
and simplicity of language are the characteristics of the verses 
which enfold five charming legends dealing with the more romantic 
aspect of Irish life."— Welsh Review. 


" Mr. T. D. Sullivan has gone to the fine old tales of Ireland for 
the subjects of this little volume. He has succeeded in producing a 
body of yerse of unusually high quality, rhythmical and forceful. 
.... The little volume is well worth reading for its poetical 
quality alone. It has of course an additional value for Irishmen 
who love the old tales of their country." — Northern Whig. 

" The contents of this volume are renderings of old Irish tales 
into English verse. Their translation evinces merit of a high order, 
•and the author has very successfully preserved the spirit of the 
original legends." — Publishers' Circular. 

" Mr. Sullivan's spirited verses are attractive in themselves, and 
breathe the fire of true poesy." — Whitehall Review. 

" Mr. Sullivan has the full spirit of the true Irish bard, and tells 
the old tales delightfully." — Irish Monthly. 

" As was generally anticipated, Blanaid proves to be a charming 
addition to our library of Celtic folk lore." — Cork Herald. 

"'Blanaid afad other Poems' is certainly a very interesting 
volume. . . . Blanaid is a really pretty story of the days of 
Irish chivalry." — Glasgow Evening News. 

"Five gems of narrative verse, certain to become popular, for 
the subjects, treatment, and versification are all good." — Liverpool 
Mercury. I 

" In his selections from the literature of the Gael, Mr. Sullivan 
has turned chiefly to the period in which Cuchullin is the prominent 
figure, and when Connor Mao Nessa was Ulster's King. The open- 
ing poem contains the story of the beautiful Blanaid, who dwelt 
on. "Marian' 8 lovely isle" (the Isle of Man), her marriage with 
Cuchullin, and her abduction by Caroi with its tragic ending. The 
history of Bailie and Ailleen, " by cruel falsehood slain," is taken 
from Professor O'Curry's MS., and the " Lay of Ossian on the Land 
of Youth " from the " Transactions " of the Ossianio Society. There 
are five poems altogether. They are all done into metrical English 
of a free and fluent kind, literal translation not being attempted." — 

" If some of the most beautiful traditions and- legends of oar 
early forefathers have to be presented in an English dress, we do 
not know by whom the task could be better performed than by Mr. 
T. D. Sullivan. . . . The volume he offers to the Irish public is 
one that has every attraction that can commend it to favour. . . . 
We can heartily congratulate Mr. Sullivan on having made another 
precious addition to Irish literature." — Cork Examiner.